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Korean Farmer Commits Suicide in Cancun

really sad loss down there . . . I got an email that the death of this man is confirmed, but haven't seen a media report yet.
Man stabs himself in WTO protest
From correspondents in Cancun, Mexico
September 11, 2003

A SOUTH Korean man was in hospital after stabbing himself during a protest that ended in confrontation with police who prevented demonstrators from reaching a World Trade Organisation conference.

Lee Kyang Hae, 55, who heads the South Korean Federation of Farmers and Fishermen, was in a serious condition with a lung perforation, according to doctors who treated him at Cancun's general hospital.

Fellow activists said Lee stabbed himself publicly during a demonstration in Cancun against the WTO, which started a five-day conference earlier in the day.

pic 10.Sep.2003 15:51


pic from cancun

Yikes 10.Sep.2003 15:55


Dogma kills. I wonder if he intended to die?

You are a cracker pig James 10.Sep.2003 16:06


Maybe you don't understand what desperation is, but just out of consideration, maybe you should assume that someone does.

read the rest of the story... 10.Sep.2003 16:13


"His act was meant to "demonstrate opposition to the WTO which is killing our farmers and destroying Korea's agriculture", another South Korean militant said at an improvised news conference."

So yes, it was intentional. Dismissing such a strong act of defiance as "dogma" is simplistic and disrespectful at best.

re: James 10.Sep.2003 16:14

Indy Reader

This is not an act of dogma. This is an act of recognition.

We are all dying a collective suicide and this Korean Farmer has given his life to make the point.

On the other hand... 10.Sep.2003 16:29


...we can say that, yes, dogma killed him: the dogma of "free" trade.

James 10.Sep.2003 16:37


First off, I apologize for the name calling. It was a sudden and uncontrolable response to your comment, which I see as a prime example of the faux objectivity, and social conformity that denies the reality behind all who's passion and/or circumstance leads them to thoughts and actions of tragic (and beautiful) outcome. But bare in mind that Lee Kyang Hae's suicide was not tragic because he should not have done it, but because the obese apathy of those who have the most power to change, or destroy, his oppressor, have left the job for him to do.

No problem 10.Sep.2003 16:50


I'm used to a little name calling around here. It brings a smile to my face at this point.

It was an act of dogma. Whether or not you believe the actions of the WTO are wrong, they're not worth dying over. Suicide itself is a disrespectful act. How many protestors do you think wanted to see that? How many wanted to clean-up his spilt blood? How will this affect his friends and family?

So does he deserve my respect? I don't see why. He showed the courage of his convictions; that much is sure. So do suicide bombers, yet I don't offer my respects for them either.

I see a man consumed with hatred. Presumably he already wanted to end his life, and decided to send a powerful message as he did it, so that some worth might come of it.

The notion that the WTO put the knife in this man's hands is nothing but hyperbole. Maybe they made it impossible for him to sell his wares. But they didn't kill him.

suicide 10.Sep.2003 17:06


is a protest tactic in korean history. from what little i know about it, it is seen as a very honorable action. a few suicide actions in the 80's spurred over a million people to gather and topple a dictator.

O.K., now I'm pissed 10.Sep.2003 17:22



"How many protestors do you think wanted to see that? How many wanted to clean-up his spilt blood? How will this affect his friends and family?"

What the hell are you talking about! It's obvious that you have no connection to any kind of struggle. So, here is a question in return: How can you, a soft-handed american male, who's every breath contributes to the monstrosity of U.S. economic hegemony, who's every hour worked fuels the military machine, be so qualified to judge those who are injured by you? You say that the actions of the WTO are not worth dying for...you know nothing. Is the fabric of one's culture, the little plot of land that came to you from your father's father's father worth dying for? How could you know?

Again, you display the spineless arogance of the american liberal. Negligent cynicism patially hidden behind the denuded voice of National Public Radio (like an elephant behind a donkey behind a sierra club membership). Your comment reminds me of a tourist I once overheard in Chiapas. The bloated parasite was actually angry that the people had taken over the city, and that after hundreds of years of oppression, were fighting with everything they had for their humanity. He just couldn't understand how anyone would be willing to inconvienence his vacation.

ONe more thing, you say that suicide is a disrespectful act, but by the following lines you seem to be saying death is a disrespectful act. Like littering. What do you mean?

more on suicide 10.Sep.2003 17:34


I am not in favor of suicide, I consider it a horrible act in the life that I lead. But the life that I lead is nothing like the lives of the farmers, both Korean and Mexican who were hear to speak out today. I have nothing but respect for the choice that this man made today, as his situation was very poor. On top of that, he came from a different culture, one where suicide is much more normal than it is in the cushy lives of the first worlders. Try some compation, he clearly felt it was worth doing, and the lest we can do is respect his decision.

relax sickened 10.Sep.2003 17:44


James is blinded by his own dogma. In his eyes, the WTO can do no wrong, no matter how anti-democratic its principles, no matter how many people are made to suffer or die, no matter how many people actively oppose it.

But that's ok, because the WTO is imploding. The rest of the world doesn't want to be a part of the what the US calls "free-trade" which is really not free trade at all, but merely a system to expand and protect corporate exploitation. If one were to actually compare the actions of the WTO with the principles of free-trade" one would find many serious discrepancies. Yet, far too many in this country here the term "free trade" and fall into unquestioned obedience, to their own misfortune.

Most people have a much better understanding and respect for acts such as these. One of the most important and remembered images that came out of the Vietnam War were monks who practiced self-immolation. We can only hope that it will not take more people committing acts such as these for the rest of the world to look closer at what is happening.

Of struggles and death 10.Sep.2003 17:58


How can I judge others from my cushy position? Well, about the same as you do, I imagine. Through powers of reasoning and collected premises.

Apparently little plots of land passed from generation to generation are worth dying for to some. I don't rightly see it myself, but any who do are certainly welcome to take the opportunity themselves, in as much as I'm concerned.

I think you've confused me and my beliefs with some other group. I don't pretend to be liberal. (Though I'll admit to enjoying Morning Edition once in a while).

Suicide, as I've known and experienced it, is disrespectful. The littering analogy you make is somewhat simplistic; I was speaking more to the emotional impacts associated with it. Dying too carries a similar emotional impact for those who survive us, but unfortunately that cannot be remedied. To make another poor analogy, if I were to slip and fall and bleed profusely, covering a friend with blood, that would not be disrespectful; it was merely an accident. But if I were to slice my wrists and bleed over a friend, that would be rather disturbing and disrespectful.

It's a good point that others have made about other cultures, and their differing views on suicide. I'll readily admit to knowing nothing of Korean views on suicide. That may help to explain his actions. But it won't help to gain my respect for them.

And to cynic, who comments on my supposed adorations for the WTO: No need to put words in my mouth. I'm capable of that all my own. I think the WTO as an idea has merit, but the actuality of its existence has been at times, and perhaps on the whole, negative. And the same can be said for the IMF. I do support free trade, because the benefits are plain. (But let's not get off on that tirade here, since this thread should be devoted to Mr. Lee).

Thanks Juan 10.Sep.2003 18:08


"a few suicide actions in the 80's spurred over a million people to gather and topple a dictator"

I hadn't known this. It's good to know that lives lost brought meaningful change.

I don't know what the corporate media is going to do with this, but the problem with many Americans is that they witness blood and death every single day on tv, and so they are purposefully numbed to the real suffering that happens when real blood is spilled. This is a way that the structure of the state keeps control - feed everyone nonstop violence so that when the real violence happens, they can manipulate the response.

How will the suicide of a farmer be treated, in comparison to the bombing of an Israeli on the cover of the NYTimes, or the shooting of a soldier in Iraq, or the death of Laci Peterson?

Why is one death more important than others to corporate media in the US?

I'd urge people to write a letter to editor now to the newspapers to push to get this story out.

Watch and see. In the US, over a million people will probably never hear of this suicide.

living 10.Sep.2003 20:05

Indy Reader

The U.S. mind does not understand such an act.

This is not an act of dogma, nor of hatred. To begin to understand the spiritual foundations and history of a mature culture is to have some appreciation. This country is immature and has wandered down a dark path. The eyes of many citizens are blinded to truth, to purpose and to meaning. We are wandering lost in a wasteland. This is the daunting challenge of our time. We have no foundation from which to enact positive change. We need to learn basic skills of patience, tolerance, devotion and self-sacrifice.

Such an act deeply disturbs our self-centered mindset. We do not understand it. We are afraid to let go of our indulgent selfish behavior and give our lives over. We have not understood the nature of the ego and its clutching at an illusions that are forever out of reach. We think the ability to indulge our desires is freedom, but true freedom is the freedom from the indulgent mind itself. When we begin to understand life at this level, then a natural intuitive order begins to take root in our lives. It is this capacity that has the ability to bring real change in the world.

from Cancun indymedia 10.Sep.2003 23:25


Muere campesino coreano inmolado durante las manifestaciones de protesta contra la OMC

Un campesino coreano que se clavó un cuchillo quitánsose la vida en forma de protesta contra los acuerdos de la Organización Mundial de Comercio (OMC) y por lo menos ocho manifestante resultaron heridos por la policía, durante la primera marcha masiva en contra de la V Cumbre Ministerial de Comercio.

Lee Kyang Hae, de 50 años de edad y miembro de Asociación Campesina de Corea se inmoló ante la indiferente mirada de los cuerpos policiacos que impidieron el avance de la marcha. El campesino coreano se trepó a la cima de la valla metálica, gritó algo en su idioma y se clavó el cuchillo en el estómago. Su cuerpo comenzó a caer lentamente entre los gritos de auxilio de sus compañeros, quienes más tarde se mostraron consternados por el lamentable suceso.

Kannikar Kijtiwatchk, una delegada tailandesa que se encontraba cerca del lugar en el que ocurrieron los hechos dijo que este suceso responde a la grave situación que enfrentan los campesinos en su país y el resto del mundo como consecuencia de la liberalización del comercio. "Este día los coreanos acostumbran rendir un homenaje a sus antepasados pero hoy ellos decidieron faltar allá para poder venir aquí a protestar", comentó con un semblante preocupado.


Korean farmer commits suicide during the protests against the WTO

A Korean farmer took his own life in protest against the policies of the WTO and at least eight other protestors were seriously injured by police during the first massive march against the Fifth Ministerial of the WTO.

Fifty-year-old Lee Kyang Hae of the Korean Farmer's Organization stabbed himself in front of the indifferent glare of police who were attempting to block passage of the march. The Korean farmer climbed the metal barricade, screamed something in Korean and jammed a knife into his stomach. His body fell from the top of the fence amid screams of help from the rest of his contingent who later reflected their sadness over the event.

Kannikar Kijtiwatchk, a Thai delegation that was near the Koreans said that the act speaks to the grave situation that farmers are facing in their countries and across the world as a result of the liberalization of commerce. "On this day Koreans usually pay homage to their ancestors, but today they decided to be here and protest instead," replied a concerned Thai participant.

i find suicide to be heroic... 11.Sep.2003 01:37


i personnally see suicide as a very heroic thing, it takes your life out of the grasp of those who attempt to control you, thereby ending the discussion on who really has power over your life. And to any(mainly westerner's ide think)body who thinks that suicide isnt heroic, you're obviously utterly unaquainted with any form of oppression, you probably have never truely felt what its like to not be in control of your destiny, i could be wrong, but that is my theory. also do you have any care for other cultures? suicide is looked at much differently (as has been said before) and is often times used as protest, or to regain honor... (sepuku in japan, im not an expert, i dont know what they call it in other countries) And what would his "friends and family think"? they could all be dead.. they could all be starving, they could adore him, but i highly doubt that they would condemn him for such an act, its a very bourgouis idea to think that such a thing would "hurt" anyone else, such "pain" could only exist within the framework of a massive imperialist bourgouis society as ours... the only way of life on earth where "emotional suffering" is more important than phsical.


anyway, whatever

why and for what? 11.Sep.2003 15:23


this person write a article right after that,
so i could get why and for what,
simply, this suacidal action means nothing itself,
he describes it as giant frustraion and furious anger,
some people might say that it is a sort of streadgey or whatever ,accordding to thier lack of aknowledge of
non-western history of activism,,however it is not correct,
people who support Lee expect this article <that LEE writes>to come up on the WTO board as a translation version,
so open your eyes for it,

so it about this quastion,
are you suacidal?
they ask this thing when you in jail for the first time
you better to know before, something happen.