I got in trouble with my parents for protesting.
A story about being a teenager trying to enact the first amendment.
Before I start, I’m going to put it out there that I’m 17 years old. I am seventeen years old and I live in South Korea. All of these circumstances make it very unnatural for me to go out and protest for my rights.
So the women’s march. I don’t live in America, but that certainly does not mean that I could just watch Trump brazenly exploit our rights and get away with it. And since Korea has been having a huge round of protests regarding our own President’s familial scandal, we didn’t exactly have time to look further out West. However, now that she’s under trial for impeachment, it gave us some time to go out into the streets as millions of other women and men did so all over the world, and I went there too.
It was not as big as the crowds in the U.S., I admit, but it was something. About 2000 of us marched the streets of Gangnam shouting for women’s rights.
Now, I did tell my parents where I was going to. But I did conveniently slip the part where I was going to a protest. I knew that my mother wouldn’t fancy the idea of me going to “such an event.” The reason I knew that is because I went to the protest in Gwanghuamun Square when the presidential scandal broke out and I was grounded for about 3 months. (I am technically still grounded, as a matter of fact.)
I did sit down and talk to my mother about it and her logic wasn’t unreasonable. It was merely…disheartening. She didn’t want me to be politically active in that manner for several reasons.
First, like all parents, she was concerned about my safety. For this reason, I take full responsibility and will say that I was being impulsive and I probably scared my mother, who lived through the Park Jung-hee regime where protestors were practically man-slaughtered. Despite the fact that times have changed, I understand her point of view. She, as my guardian, has the duty to protect me as long as I’m underage, and therefore I am obliged to follow her guidance.
The second reason was what I disagreed with. She said that the establishment is not going to budge even if you go out into the cold streets in January, braving the freezing winter air. The establishment is sitting in their penthouse suites, sipping sommelier-selected wine from France. It’s not going to change unless the establishment moves and true progressives take place. She told me that she did not vote for the last election and she will not vote in the upcoming election because to her, they are all just the same — greedy, dirty politicans.
I do agree with her that the establishment does not budge very easily — and this seems to be a universal concept across the world. But I don’t think that means we should just give up. There needs to be some kind of force that holds them accountable, no matter how miniscule it may seem to be.
And also, there seems to be this universal hatred against public figures/institutions in general: politicians are unpopular, the media is untrustworthy, and conglomerate multi-national corportations and big banks are thieves. And there is a good amount of truth in that but it seems to me that a lot of people don’t even know what they’re yelling about. Whenever I bring up the subject of government and politics, the instant reaction of people is to cringe and I ask them what do you think is the major problem of the government, they usually round everyone up as corrupt, greedy, bunch of gold-diggers. Although that partially is true, that certainly isn’t everything. And that kind of hasty generalisation feeds the defeatist attitude of citizens in this modern era of democracy and that lets people like Trump get away with his brazen cabinet picks, his obvious conflicts of interests, and so much more.
Now, I could go to my mother right now and rant about everything I said, but that would honestly just mean that I would get my internet access taken away and I don’t want to lose my eye into the world.
There has been many talks recently about lowering the voters’ age, increasing teens’ participation in civic duties. Young people are, for the most part, very progressive, and we are increasingly becoming more and more educated. But we are not provided with neither the systematic approval nor the societal platform. That we ought to think about again.