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<nettime> Fandom, social media and political action in South Korea
Antonio A. Casilli on Sat, 19 Sep 2009 13:49:10 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Fandom, social media and political action in South Korea

Hi all,
a little post (+video) from my blog.

Korean documentary film highlights the role of social media in promoting
street protests (eng)

_Shall we protest?_, or how a bunch of socially networked fashion victims
and boy-band fans managed to bring 1 million citizens in the streets,
paralysed a city for four months, and nearly brought down a government.
Source: www.bodyspacesociety.eu

"So you miss some old-school political action. Like, you want corrupt
politicians in some faraway country and students protesting in the street.
Also, you dig the new futility-ridden Internet political thang. Like, you
want to see badass flash mobs and a bunch of socially networked kids that
just click their way through a better world.

Then you will love Shall we protest?, the documentary film about the
Chotbul (?candlelight?) political rallies that paralysed the city of Seoul
from May to August 2008. Written, directed and produced by South Korean
mediactivists Sungmi Cho and Dongwon Jo, the film explains with great
insight and passion how a small online forum of fashion victims called the
SoulDresser managed to bring 1 million citizens in the streets to protest
against the South Korea/US FTA (free trade agreements).

The Chotbul protest was initially meant as an netizen initiative ?against
the mad cow disease?  but it soon evolved into a national upsurge against
Lee Myung-Bak?s government and the interference from US administration in
South Korean  economic policies. The emphasis is put on participants?
self-organizing and collaborative know-how, as well as on the creative
side of this grassroot tactical media protests that federated a large
number of online fandom networks: manga nerds, boy-band fans, and many
others  admittedly obscure subcultures turned their peculiar passions to
good account to serve a common cause.

Sure, this is not Tien-An Men and the South Korean government is far from
being an actual dictatorship. Yet president Lee Myung-Bak comes out as an
East-Asian Berlusconi: a populist right-wing moron whose limited mental
capacity (his nickname is ?2MB?, or LeeMB, as the number 2 is pronounced
?lee? in Korean) is inversely proportional to his extensive record of
criminal allegations (14 trials stood to this day).

The really interesting thing is that this documentary is a pure product of
the open culture. Produced using FOSS (free open source software), the
film is freely downloadable and screenable. It is the output of the work
of a small community of activists that filmed, edited, contributed
everything from subtitles to the music score under Creative Commons
license. Despite their past association with traditional political
formations such as the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, the two
directors emerged from the MediaCultureAction ? a network of activists
from alt media and cultural movements loosely associated with the
antiglobalisation movement. So, despite its popculture flavor, the 2008
Seoul protests follow in a hardcore militant timeline that leads from the
2005 anti-APEC demonstrations in Busan,  the opposition to Hong Kong WTO
meeting, and the 2006 popular reactions to South Korea-US FTA (Free Trade

Read more:

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