by WorldTribune Staff, August 16, 2019. Updated August 17
A massive flag rally in Seoul on Aug. 15 to mark the 74th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan was mostly ignored by South Korea’s mainstream media while foreign media reported on a smaller demonstration dominated by anti-Japan sentiment, observers say.
Protesters from conservative groups filled the streets of central Seoul for the Aug. 15 demonstration, with many calling for the ouster of South Korean President Moon Jae-In and pushing back against the anti-Japanese campaign promoted by the government and reported by most media.
Tara O, Director at East Asia Research Center and a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force (Ret.), tweeted: Major #SouthKorean media may not cover this massive gathering to call for #MoonJaein to step down, but it’s undeniable. Looks *much* larger than the candlelight ones. Some signs say “impeachment (of Park Geun-Hye) invalid.”
Related: Report challenges legal, factual basis for impeaching South Korea’s conservative president, July 16, 2019
Massive flag rallies occurred in central Seoul, including Seoul Station, City Hall Plaza, and Daehanmun, South Korea, East Asia Research Center reported.
“People held South Korean flags (Taegukgi), the U.S. flags (Seongjogi), and the Israeli flags. Many called for Moon Jae-In to step down; some went further to demand Moon’s impeachment or drive him out from the office.”
“Major media, such as SBS and MBC, did not cover the rallies,” the report said. A brief KBS report focused on a small anti-Japanese group and incorrectly reported the size of the anti-Moon demonstration as only 3,000.
Foreign media, meanwhile “said there were massive anti-Japan, anti-Abe demonstrations, but either they mistook the flag rallies as anti-Japan, or they covered only the anti-Japan demonstrations, which were relatively small and not related to the flag demonstrations,” Tara O noted in an e-letter. “In fact, many flag rally supporters have been criticizing the Moon administration’s incitement of anti-Japan sentiment, which exacerbates South Korea’s economic and security situation.”
Related: Tokyo-Seoul fight closely tracked by China, Russia, North Korea, August 15, 2019
“President Moon government is using the Japan issue to gain political support,” said 51-year-old Lee Soo-In, according to a UPI report. “Japan did terrible things to Korean people but that was in the past. The situation today is different from history. We need to keep the alliance between the U.S., Korea and Japan strong.”
In a televised address for the Liberation Day holiday, Moon said of cooperation with Japan: “Better late than never: If Japan chooses the path of dialogue and cooperation, we will gladly join hands.”
The flag rallies have been occurring for over 2 1/2 years weekly on Saturdays, and also on special occasions, the e-letter reported.
See more photos from the Aug. 15 flag rallies here