Police hauled away about 20 demonstrators, mostly young women, when they tried to hold a protest in front of the US army base here Thursday [September 15] alleging that American soldiers were responsible for the spread of AIDS in South Korea.As AP reported in a September 17 article about the opening of the Olympics,
A small protest was held at Yonsei university with less than 100 students taking part. Students distributed leaflets claiming foreigners at the Olympics would spread acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
“Oppose Olympics which oppose Korean peoples’ health with AIDS,” the leaflets said.
The group asked, “The United States is causing many problems as it pursues pro-gay policies like the recent expansion of same-sex marriage legalization, but is it now trying to expand homosexuality in not just the United States, but Korea, too?” They said homosexuality was the main culprit in the occurrence of AIDS, and that homosexuals were at high risk of getting AIDS. They that the number of patients who contracted AIDS due to homosexual activity in Korea is rising like the United States, and asked if the United States was trying to export AIDS, too, to Korea through its gay diplomacy. - See more at: http://www.rjkoehler.com/#sthash.mrsHcNVI.dpufOr, as I noted in this post, Hustler's 'Korean sex-scene guide,' published during the 1988 Olympics and discovered and translated by students, was
Just the ticket to incite an anti-American demonstration, which is what a young man with a microphone nearby is trying to do.So it wasn't just soldiers, but foreigners (particularly Americans) who were planning to pollute Korea with AIDS as well.
"You see? The Olympic Games are just an excuse for Americans to come to Korea and pollute our country with AIDS!" he shouts. "Yankees out of Korea!"
"Yankees out of Korea!" echoes the crowd of about 50 students. Across the front of the building are four huge posters proclaiming: "Yonsei University students curse American barbarism."
In mid-October 1988 the Donga Ilbo reported that
the head of the AIDS countermeasures joint committee Im Jong-cheol pointed out that “USFK is an AIDS powder magazine” and revealed that there was an urgent need for an amendment to the AIDS Prevention Law to implement such things as a regular AIDS checkup for USFK members.By this point, in the wake of the Olympics, calls were being made to amend the SOFA agreement, in some cases to allow for HIV testing of US soldiers.
The fears stirred up by these leftist activists echoed contemporary North Korean propaganda which accused US soldiers as having infected 100,000 prostitutes in the south with AIDS.
In May 1989, AP described a protest against Yankee 'devils' in Daejeon which sounds similar to such propaganda:
''Let's inflict an irrevocable defeat on U.S. imperialism and advance the unification of our fatherland,'' said student leader Im Chong-suk.So it was not without a sense of irony that I read Robert's post at the Marmot's Hole about right-wing Christian activists protesting in front of the US embassy against alleged US embassy support for the Korean Queer Festival:
Cheering students chanted, ''Punish Yankee imperialism'' and ''Yankees go home.''
Leaders denounced a proposal to relocate some U.S. military units from Seoul to Taejon. They charged American soldiers would spread AIDS among the local population.
Speakers ridiculed American soldiers as the ''AIDS legion.''
Korean Queer Festival
The group asked, “The United States is causing many problems as it pursues pro-gay policies like the recent expansion of same-sex marriage legalization, but is it now trying to expand homosexuality in not just the United States, but Korea, too?” They said homosexuality was the main culprit in the occurrence of AIDS, and that homosexuals were at high risk of getting AIDS. They that the number of patients who contracted AIDS due to homosexual activity in Korea is rising like the United States, and asked if the United States was trying to export AIDS, too, to Korea through its gay diplomacy.I wonder how comfortable those right-wing Christians would be realizing their accusations mirror those made by left-wing radical students not so long ago. Perhaps their affinity for believing in Korean exceptionalism (especially in exceptional moral uprightness (compared to Americans) and exceptional victimization) which lies at the heart of many narratives of Korean nationalism might allow them to reach across the ideological divide and shake hands for a moment. Or not.
(They both might want to send their kids to this hagwon, at least.)
Oh, and it's not wise to blame the west for the expansion of homosexuality in Korea, considering that it appears to have been at the very least tolerated in Joseon-era rural society, as I noted here, and as Robert Neff discussed here. Richard Rutt also examined this topic in his article 'The Flower Boys of Silla (Hwarang)' published in the October 1961 issue of Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society (which, along with other Transactions articles, can be downloaded here).