“Angry Korean People”, Chinese Netizen Reactions

South Korean protesters tear apart a large American flag demanding that American troops stationed in South Korea be withdrawn.

Angry Koreans, a Chinese photo series on Korean protests and demonstrations.

From NetEase:

Angry Korean people

Anti-Japanese, anti-American, anti-new government, Korea has always been a land of protest. It is claimed that every year the number of protests and demonstrations average 11,000 while large-scale deployments of riot police average 85. A humiliating history of colonization and a strong sense of crisis have created “angry Koreans”.

A self-immolation incident in South Korea by Hyundai workers over new government labor laws.

1997 January 11. Ulsan, Korea. A 34-year-old Hyundai Automobile Company employee sets himself on fire in front of riot police, protesting the implementation of a new labor law, ultimately causing 90% burns to his body. The protestors participating in the strike believed that the new labor law gives employers even more power, allowing them to dismiss workers, employ temporary workers, and refuse to join the strikers. This strike mobilized 3 million workers, stopping production of automobiles, ship-building, and other major industries; The strike also interrupted television news transmissions, and interrupted hospital and subway services.

A Buddhist monk threatens suicide and police falling from a failed attempt to storm a temple.

1998 December 23. Seoul, Korea. Over 1000 riot police participating in an operation to storm and capture a Buddhist temple attempting to remove over 100 monks were met with intense counterattacks. The “rebel” monks were in conflict with another faction over the management of millions of dollars in Buddhism funds, and the opposition expelled them out of the temple and occupied it. Left photo: A monk holding a knife stands on the balcony, claiming that if police continue the assault he would commit suicide on the spot. Right photo: Police using ladders to storm [the temple] are foiled, with many falling from the heights.

A suspended decapitated head as Korean workers protest industrial restructuring policies in Seoul, Korea.

2001 November 18. Seoul, Korea. Over 10,000 workers rallied to protest the government’s industrial restructuring and reduction of workers rest days program. A model of a government leader’s head was suspended at the site of the event. Right photo: 1995 May 14, in front of the Financial Supervisory Commission in Seoul, Korea, an insurance company office worker makes an obscene gesture, participating in a demonstration protesting the government’s economic restructuring plan.

A Korean protester spewing flames from a propane gas tank with riot police in the background.

2002 March 15. Seoul, Korea. A protester uses a propane gas tank to spew fire at riot police. Over 400 self-claimed decommissioned spies who were recruited by the intelligence department and trained to infiltrate North Korea staged a demonstration, demanding that the government give them compensation. Since the last 1990s, 13,000 Koreans have received secret training; Up to the 1970s, over 7000 people have entered North Korea carrying out secret missions. Because they are still subject to government monitoring after being decommissioned, these former spies have difficulty finding work, and most of them are in hardship.

Former Korean President Roh Myoo-hyun hit in the face with an egg by protesters.

2002 November 13. Seoul, Korea. At a campaign rally, Millennium Democratic Party presidential candidate Roh Moo-hyun encountered a parade of farmers demanding that the government protect the domestic agricultural product market, and an egg thrown by demonstrators just happened to hit Roh Moo-hyun in the face. At the time, the presidential candidates all refused to have accompanying bodyguards ruin their image of being close to the people, and so Roh Moo-hyun suffered this embarrassing “egg in the face” moment.

A Korean protester vandalizes and defaces the signage outside an American army base in South Korea.

2002 June 20. Seoul, Korea. A demonstrator vandalizes the sign in front of an American military base. On June 13th of that year, a United States military armored vehicle on a training exercise mission outside the base hit and killed two 14-year-old Korean middle school girls. When the US soldiers were ultimately found not guilty, it incited mass anti-American demonstrations, challenging the Korean-American alliance. The American president of the time Bush Jr. many times towards Korea over this matter.

Protesters clash with riot police in South Korea.

Left photo: 2003 April 2. Seoul, Korea. A large group of protestors clash with riot police, protesting the Roh Moo-hyun Administration deploying medical and engineering personnel to Iraq. Right photo: 2004 November 19. Seoul, Korea. A demonstrator braving riot police water cannons to advance on the Presidential Office, protesting the government signing a rice free trade agreement.

South Korean protesters tear apart a large American flag demanding that American troops stationed in South Korea be withdrawn.

2004 August 15. In front of the American Embassy in Seoul, Korea. Protesters tear up a large American national flag. That day, over 10,000 people held a demonstration, demanding the withdrawal of troops stationed in Korea and urging then Korean President Roh Moo-hyun cancel the order to send over 3000 Korean soldiers to Iraq to provide aid and reconstruction.

A young Korean man jumps off a 16-story building after being denied an American visa.

2004 March 22. Seoul, Korea. A Korean young man climbed to the top of a 16-story building near the United States Embassy and jumped off after a 4-hour stalemate with police, but fortunately falling onto an air cushion that was already laid our thereby only suffering light injuries. Police said that this young man had applied for a visa at the American embassy in Korea but had been refused a visa and it was probably because of his emotional distress over this that he took such drastic action.

Anti-American Korean protesters rip apart a 2-month old pig.

South Korea and the United States have very close diplomatic relations, and the United States has many military bases in Korea. After the 1980 Gwangju Incident, the United States was accused of tacitly supporting the former military dictatorship, and anti-American sentiments amongst Koreans gradually spread. Photo is of 2007 May in Incheon, Korea, where protestors opposing the United States stationing troops in Incheon took a two-month old little pig and quartered it.

Anti-Japanese Koreans cut off their little finger publicly to protest Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visiting the Yasukuni Shrine.

Although Korea and Japan are both allies of the United States, Korean-Japanese relations are tense due to the era of colonialism, World War II, and other historical issues. 1910 August, Japan forced the Greater Korean Empire to sign the “Japan-Korean Annexation Treaty”, formally annexing the Korean peninsula, and beginning up to 35 years of colonial rule. Photo is of 2001 August 13 in Seoul, Korea, where 20 Korean young men cut off their little finger in front of an audience, protesting then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s decision to visit the Yasukuni Shrine.

A Korean man tears apart a Japanese national flag with his teeth to protest Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's 5th consecutive visit to the Yasukuni Shrine.

2005 October 17. Seoul, Korea. A protester bites into a Japanese flag in front of the Japanese Embassy, protesting then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s fifth visit to the Yasukuni Shrine.

5 decapitated dog heads symbolizing the Korean traitors who collaborated with Japanese colonial rule.

2007 March 1. Seoul, Korea. A decommissioned spy placed 5 dog heads in front of the Japanese Embassy, to symbolize those traitors who supported Japanese colonial rule and to commemorate the 88th year of the March 1st Movement. 1919 March 1, the Korean peninsula exploded in a patriotic movement opposing Japanese colonial rule and fighting for national independence and freedom. The anti-Japanese struggle that started from this event lasted until the end of June where it was ultimately suppressed by Japan. Afterward, Japan’s rule of the Korean peninsula was changed to the mollifying “cultural policy”.

A Korean nationalist stabs himself to protest Japanese claims of soverignty over the Liancourt Rocks.

2006 April 19. Seoul, Korea. A protester stabs his own stomach in public in front of the March 1st Movement Monument, protesting Japan’s plans to conduct oceanographic research in the disputed waters of the Liancourt Rocks.

A Korean nationalist "beheads" a Japanese government official during a protest in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, Korea.

2006 August 15, in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, Korea. A former Korean spy beheads “Junichiro Koizumi”, protesting his sixth consecutive year visiting the Yasukuni Shrine.

A Korean nationalist covers himself with 187k bees to represent the 187k square meters of the Liancourt Rocks that belong to Korea.

2006 May 2. Seoul, Korea. A local beekeeper stands on a Japanese national flag, using 187,000 bees covering his body to represent the 187,000 square meters of Dokdo (Japanese Takeshima), protesting Japanese claims of sovereignty over the islands. There is a territorial dispute between Korea and Japan, a small island that Korea calls Dokdo and the Japanese call Takeshima. Korea and Japan both claim sovereignty, and the Korean people hold protests and demonstrations over this matter.

Korean nationalists carry coffins into Gimpo Airport to protest Japanese officials visiting islands disputed between the two countries.

2011 August 1. Gimpo Airport in Seoul, Korea. Hundreds of demonstrators carrying three coffins, protesting Japan lawmakers insisting on going to the disputed islands, charge into the main hall clashing with security personnel. That day, 3 Japanese legislature members flew into Gimpo Airport and because they planned to visit the Ulleungdo island near Takeshima (Korean Dokdo) that Japanese claim sovereignty over, they were denied entry by the Koreans. Protesters said the what the Japanese lawmakers were doing “was to escalate the internationalization of the Dokdo dispute”, and must be firmly stopped.

Korean farmers carrying the body of Lee Kyung Hae, who protested the WTO.

2003 September 20. Seoul, Korea. Protesting farmers on parade carrying Korean farmer Lee Kyung Hae who had committed suicide. 2003 September 10th, outside the World Trade Organization’s Fifth Ministerial in Cancun, Mexico. As 56-year-old Lee Kyung Hae was carrying a sign that said “WTO Kills Farmers” confronting police, he suddenly pulled out a dagger and stabbed himself in the chest. Before he committed suicide, he had written a letter to WTO members, explaining why Korean farmers condemned the WTO.

Korean protesters in Victoria Harbor during a WTO conference.

2005 December 13, the WTO’s 6th Ministerial opened in Hong Kong. About 2000 Korean farmers traveled to Hong Kong to hold a protest. Outside the conference, Korean farmers jumped into to icy waters of Victoria Harbor. Koreans have always revolved around rice and grains and since the opening of the rice market, Korea’s roughly 3.5 million farmers have seen their incomes drop 15%. With government subsidies only given to large farmers, small farmers are unable to survive. Since 2003 February when Korea and Chile signed a free trade agreement, protests by Korean farmers have continuous.

Korean protesters protesting a free trade agreement with the United States.

2006 October 23. Jeju Island, Korea. Protesters holding banners swam towards the hotel where Korean and American government officials were negotiating free trade agreement but upon coming ashore were met with a large police blockade.

A Korean throws a bucket of cow dung at a supermarket counter selling imported American beef following mad cow disease scares.

2007 July 13. Seoul, Korea. A Korean farmer throws cow dung at a supermarket counter selling American beef, opposing Korea resuming importation of American beef. Korea was one of the major export markets for American beef but after 2003 December when mad cow disease was discovered in the United States, Kora basically stopped imports of American beef. This ban was not lifted until 2007 June.

Korean protesters tear apart a caricature of the Korean president over the American beef imports.

2008 June 28. Seoul, Korea. Demonstrators tore up a huge caricature of Korean President Lee Myung-bak. 2008 April, the Korean government and the United States reached an agreement on the import of American beef. Beginning from 2008 May 2 till now [2008 July], almost every night has seen over 100,000 citizens staging protests in downtown Seoul, believing that the agreement will increase the risk of introducing mad cow disease [into Korea]. Eventually, senior government leaders including the Korean Prime Minister submitted their collective resignation to bear the responsibility of causing a domestic political crisis for opening up the beef market to the United States.

Korean opposition party members attempt to break into a meeting by the ruling party discussing allowing American beef imports.

2008 December 18. Seoul, Korea. Korean opposition party members use hammers to smash open the Parliamentary Committee’s doors, protesting the ruling Grand National Party’s plan to sign a free trade agreement with the United States. A melee broke out in the Parliament building, with the Grand National Party using furniture to bloke the main entrance, and using fire extinguishers in defense.

Korean dairy farmers protesting by pouring milk on themselves, demanding that the government raise dairy prices.

2011 July 26. Seoul, Korea. Several dairy farmers wearing mourning clothes lit a coffin on fire and poured milk on their bodies, demanding that the government increase dairy prices. The Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement was approved by the United States Congress on the 12th, but the for the agreement to formally come into effect still requires that it be passed by the Korean National Assembly. At present, the Korean side remains divided with supporters believing that the agreement will help Korea’s economic growth while opponents believe it will negatively affect Korea’s economic interests.

Korean women demanding the annulment of an old law by shaving their heads.

2004 December 1. Seoul, Korea. Several middle aged women gather together to shave their heads, demanding the annulment of National Security Law.

A Korean football fan drops his trousers to show his displeasure during the 2006 World Cup.

2006 June 24. Seoul, Korea. A football [soccer] fan drops his pants on the street to show his dissatisfaction. That day, during last round of the 2006 Germany World Cup group stage, the Swiss team defeated the South Korean team 2:0. Korean football fans used 4.2 million emails to “bomb” the World Cup official website, believing the Swiss team had a handball in the penalty zone and thus should have been ruled a penalty, and that the goal by Frei on the Swiss team should’ve been ruled offside.

Angry Koreans face paint.

Although Korean public opinion and international public opinion are universally critical of radical methods of protest, the tenacity and perseverance behind [the Korean] people’s aggressiveness and boldness have propelled Korea rapidly into becoming a new industrialized nation, creating the “Miracle on the Han River“. Some scholars believe that because of Korea’s small size and limited resources, there is a widespread sense of crisis and urgency amongst the people, creating the “angry Koreans”, allowing them to use an indomitable spirit to fight for democracy, equality, and justice, crying out for their country’s future and their nationality’s prosperity.

Comments from NetEase:


[They] have blood, guts, and courage…and a fight

00哇 [网易山东省济南市网友]:

Only when you dare to oppose can you become strong and powerful.

Anything else I don’t even want to say.

灵点涂丫 [网易广东省深圳市网友]:

Koreans worthy of respect!

耘天的博客 [网易北京市网友]:

Isn’t North Korea and South Korea the same people? Draw a line down the middle and one is poor and one is rich? What’s going on?

生而在世我很抱歉 [网易四川省雅安市网友]:

That poor little pig, who did he piss off? What kind of crimes did he commit in a past life, that he must suffer such retribution in this life.

greatest1983 [网易广东省网友]:

Now this is what democracy and freedom looks like! Koreans are true men!

lilia0914 [网易上海市网友]:

Using self-mutilation and suicide to express one’s dissatisfaction, now that’s a garbage people. Next time organize a 10,000 people eating shit protest, I’m waiting to see that. Haha.

sbknm [网易河南省平顶山市网友]:

Korea, the hope of Asia’s people.


When I was in middle school, I admired those Koreans who set themselves on fire to resist oppression but then I learned what kind of people [Koreans are] when I grew up. Now when I see this kind of news, I can only laugh.


To tell the truth, if Korea wasn’t saying that Chi You was Korean or that Confucius was Korean, then it would still be a nationality worthy of respect. After all, they are a truly patriotic people, and a people who are proud of their nationality though of course it has gone a bit too far and become arrogance. Koreans demonstrate their pride through buying their own domestic brands, and the the products Korean companies sell to their own people are always the best. However, amongst all this is also a kind of inferiority complex. After all, since the moment there was Korean history, Korea has never escaped its role/position as a vassal state, even to this day. One Korean foreign student I know often says Greater Korean Empire, China, little Japan. Every time I hear it I laugh…

魚湯拌飯 [网易辽宁省阜新市网友]:

Bang zi are the most narcissistic people in the world!

逆行的车 [网易广东省云浮市网友]:

I think some behaviors by Koreans are very perverse/abnormal.

iamKG [网易广东省广州市网友]:

After seeing this, I’m starting to see Korea a bit differently.

东风等万事 [网易黑龙江省绥化市网友]: (responding to sbknm)

A country that has to this day relied on the American military to prop it up, what hope is there to speak of?! And how can it represent Asia? Save Asia?

东风等万事 [网易黑龙江省绥化市网友]: (responding to above)

If they are Asia’s hope, then I’ve lost all hope.

东风等万事 [网易黑龙江省绥化市网友]:

A people with a lot of fighting spirit.
Too bad its neighbors China and Japan are those it will never dare to touch.
And this has limited its development.
If this country were in Africa or West Asia, it would be very large and powerful.

xphgrhj [网易北京市网友]:

Although Korea is small, Koreans are persevering, brave, and very upright and courageous. The rest I won’t comment on.

What do you think? Of Koreans? Of “Angry Koreans”?

Angry Koreans. Personals @ chinaSMACK.

Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.