Imagine Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and the heads of some of the biggest corporations facing a courtroom, their prison numbers stitched on their chests, their hands cuffed together. Hundreds of people line up daily, hoping to get into the courtroom to see their public humiliation.
Something similar is taking place right now in south Korea, where former President Roh Tae-woo is on trial for corruption. His predecessor, Chun Doo-hwan, is in jail for masterminding a coup in 1979 and then carrying out a massacre of civilian protesters in 1980 in the city of Kwangju.
On trial with Roh are Samsung Chair Lee Kun-hee and Kim Woo-joong, head of the Daewoo conglomerate, south Korea's fourth largest.
Roh has admitted receiving $32 million from Samsung. It went into a $650-million secret slush fund he accumulated during his presidency.
Notably absent from facing the music, however, are the U.S. corporations that not only padded Roh's accounts but have used him and other military puppets to keep the south Korean people under the domination of U.S. capital ever since the 1950-53 Korean War.
For 15 years, a militant protest movement in south Korea has been demanding the prosecution of Chun Doo-hwan for his bloody suppression of the pro-democracy uprising in Kwangju in May 1980. Thousands of students and others have been arrested for chanting "Down with Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae- woo." Dozens have burned themselves in acts of self- immolation.
The anger of the people is also white-hot against occupying U.S. troops. It is well known that a U.S. general gave the go-ahead for the Kwangju attack, which resulted in at least 2,000 dead and thousands more injured and arrested.
The protest movement has crested in the last six months, with many clashes between troops and thousands of demonstrators. Some 600,000 people signed a petition calling for punishing the two military dictators.
Current President Kim Young-sam, who finally agreed to Chun's arrest, hopes to deflect attention from his own scandal: accusations that he took dirty money from Roh during the 1992 presidential election campaign, when he ran as a reformer.
All these hated puppets have been praised by the U.S. government and media as a democratic bulwark against communism in Korea.
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