1802 HMT 15 January 2017, Lee Sangho, Saeil Finance Junior Market Analyst, Taeil S.C.
It was unseasonably cool tonight in Taeil. According to my phone it was 14.2 degrees outside. There were at least two hundred of us assembled here in Kijeon Square, shouting insults at the ROHA soldiers formed up in front of us with their tanks and personnel carriers. I honestly never thought that within my lifetime I’d see Hanseom soldiers deployed in the streets of our cities, arrayed against us. Sure the Taeil Massacre was only 18 years ago, but the country has progressed so much since those days. I suppose I’m getting ahead of myself though.
The rhetoric of the 2014 Presidential election campaign was unlike anything seen in as long as anyone could remember. The three frontrunning parties spat venom at each other almost non-stop during the nine month election cycle. Like all Hanin of voting age, I did my patriotic duty and voted on election day. Compulsary participation in elections tends to make you do that. The fact that it’s a national holiday doesn’t hurt either.
Like most Hanin, I sat and watched the election results as they came in (all regular programming is suspended on election night, so it’s not like I had anything else to watch). Early indications showed that President Ha Taejin would hold the presidency and WNN’s Kim Myeongmi predicted his People’s Democracy Party would capture over 45 percent of the presidential vote. Their computer predictions predicted 32 percent of the vote for Kim Sungmin and the Reunification Party, while Cho Miri and her New Hanseom Party were projected to receive 18 percent of the vote.
As the night progressed, it became very obvious just how wrong those predictions were. Kim was performing abysmally, taking barely 11 percent of the vote. Ha was performing slightly worse than predicted, taking 38 percent of the national vote. Cho on the other hand, was crushing all expectations.
While most people agreed that she was the most likeable candidate (women loved the idea that Hanseom would have its first female President and men loved her for how she looked), most experts agreed that she was unelectable. President Ha constantly pointed out the Hanseom supremacist undertones in her party’s speeches and people publicly agreed with him. Her receipt of 48 percent of the vote showed that most of these people were liars.
Due to the huge disparity between the exit polls and actual election results, voting officials enacted a nationwide recount, which found surprisingly few irregularities (most of which were in favor of the other two candidates). To everyone’s disbelief, people actually wanted Miri Cho to win the election. For the next two weeks until the swearing-in ceremony (and a little beyond), she was universally panned by the Hanseom media.
In the furor surrounding her election, people entirely forgot about the results of another important vote. The Hanseom people voted 58 to 42 percent to eliminate the Upper House in the National Assembly.
Over the next few months, the Cho administration continued speaking out against corruption in the government, citing out of control administrative costs in several key departments. In April 2015, she announced that a new budget was being pushed through the Assembly and encouraged all people to contact their assemblyperson and encourage them to support it. This measure capped executive salaries and set forth severe punishments for the misuse of government funds. The budget also revoked government funding from the news outlets most critical of Cho and her administration.
Despite calls from the media to vote against it, the National Assembly listened to the overwhelming support from their constituency and voted to pass the new budget. Seemingly overnight private broadcasting stations lost between 25-70 percent of their funding. Before long, MBS, SBN, and YTS announced that they could no longer afford to operate. By April 2016, they ceased to exist. By the end of October, the only two networks still in operation were the government-controlled HBS and the anti-Cho World News Now network.
Simultaneous to the media clampdown, the government was looking to make an example of anyone that ran afoul of the new anti-corruption laws. Their opportunity came in May 2015, when Park Yongchul, the chairman of Hanlink (the national railroad), was arrested for allegedly mismanaging the company’s budget. Under the auspices of the new anti-corruption laws, Yongchul was brought before a special nationally televised session of the Taeil National District Court, which, in a 15 minute trial, found him guilty of ‘corruption’ and sentenced him to death. Following the sentence, television cameras followed his police convoy to New Start Prison in Taeil to capture his execution by a combat policeman. His face remained resolute to the end as he was forced to kneel and the policeman fired the pistol aimed the base of his skull. This continued and by the end of 2015 it was obvious that Cho was using the anti-corruption law to remove her opponents.
Toward the end of 2015, Cho began capitalizing on the rhetoric put forth by the previous administration about the dangers of the Commonwealth, Songian communists and Namseom and started pushing supporters to pressure their Assemblypeople to draft and pass a presidential emergency powers act, pursuant to the security portion of her election platform. The ‘Difficult Situation Emergency Powers Act’ passed the National Assembly in February 2016, once again by an overwhelming majority.
In the late afternoon on 17 November 2016, a child in Taeil spotted a body in an alleyway while walking home from school and informed a local police officer, who immediately identified it as the Minister of Internal Security, Kim Minjae. Within an hour, Cho held a press conference where she denounced the attack and declared the implementation of certain provisions of the Emergency Powers Act, chiefly the provisions that limited movement within the country. The military established checkpoints throughout all cities. Within 24 hours, both news networks reported that agents of the Number Four Bureau, working alongside the State Security Bureau, raided the apartment belonging to a Tairandian citizen, Ishimoto Abe. According to the press release, Abe was killed in a shootout with government agents. A sweep of his apartment revealed documents and information not only connecting him to the murder of Minister Kim, but to a Tairandian spy agency. Cho used this evidence to employ all provisions of the Emergency Powers Act.
In one fell swoop, Cho achieved total power over the nation. People believed that the Tairandians and the entirety of the Commonwealth were against us until late December, when WNN broke a story that suggested that Abe was just a scapegoat in a government power grabbing plan. Within a week, agents of the Number Four Bureau siezed the WNN headquarters and placed their staff under arrest. Most haven’t been seen or heard from since.
While protests against the government were severe- protesters shut down major highways nationwide and staged sit-ins in multiple cities, the government response was muted. The most significant resposne for the past two weeks was a call from the broadcasters on Hanseom Broadcasting Station for people to show restraint and support for Cho in these trying times.
And that brings us to tonight. As I stood here in the cold rain, looking around, I felt sorry for the country I loved. I felt sorry for the soldiers arrayed against us (I was an infantryman during my military service). I felt sorry for the people standing on either side of me, hurling insults at the soldiers. At the same time though, we let this happen
As I pondered this, one of the protesters produced a molotov cocktail and threw it toward one of the infantry fighting vehicles arrayed against us. Fortunately, though, it fell short. Sadly that set the soldiers into action
‘ATTENTION PROTESTERS, YOU ARE ILLEGALLY ASSEMBLED. PLEASE DISPERSE IMMEDIATELY OR WE WILL BE FORCED TO USE FORCE. I SAY AGAIN, PLEASE END YOUR ILLEGAL ASSEMBLY AND RETURN TO YOUR HOMES OR WE WILL FIRE UPON YOU.’
The crowd ripped up some of the pavement and sent several gigantic rocks or asphault chunks at the soldiers standing in the open.
‘PROTESTERS, THIS IS YOUR LAST WARNING, DISPERSE. YOU HAVE UNTIL THE COUNT OF FOUR TO CEASE YOUR ILLEGAL ASSEMBLY OR WE WILL FIRE UPON YOU. RETURN TO YOUR HOME AND LOVED ONES IMMEDIATELY’
As another rock went sailing from the crowd, couldn’t help but wonder what would happen to us. That question was answered almost immediately by the chatter of multiple automatic weapons.
Play up, play up, and play the game!
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