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Man sets himself on fire outside Japanese embassy in Seoul

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I would question the fact that someone nearby was carrying a blanket when it is 36C. Family member?

13 ( +14 / -1 )

This act of foolishness will be forgotten by the World in another day and the only people who will remember it are family and friends.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Nothing against people protesting for something they believe it is right, but this action just show how problematic he is. He really needs psychological treatment.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

Don't agree with self-immolation, but then again it wouldn't have happened if Japan had been more honest about its historical issues

I don't know if you read the whole article, but they say self-immolation isn't a rare form of protest in Korea. So no matter if the protest is towards Japan or another thing. I believe it would be interesting in this case, trying to understand why this kind of protest is rather common and specially how it is seen in Korean society. For example, in Japan suicide was seen how an act of honor. Something changed but I think it's still seen like that to some extent. In Italy it's considered like a form of sin, because of our religion. In Korea, how self-immolation is seen? I like to know different cultures without being ethnocentric. My knowledge of Korea isn't very wide, I know its hystory and politics enough, less its cultural/social aspects, even though I see it shares many of the same social problems of Japan. About this matter of self-immolation, I will admit my lack of knowledge.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Idiot... setting yourself on fire solves nothing and only makes you look like an extremist.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

He must have been really fired up about this topic. but his gesture will be in vain.

8 ( +13 / -4 )

Oh he might have chosen to immolate himself elsewhere - but it wouldn't have happened outside the Japanese embassy, and we wouldn't be reading about it now.

You didn't understand my post at all. Of course, this man protested against Japan. But the article wasn't only about this man, it spoke also about self-immolation in general in South Korea. I hope you won't say I'm off-topic, I don't know about you, but I read also this part of the article.

Self-immolation is not that rare in South Korea and was particularly common during the pro-democracy movement of the 1980s and early-90s, when a number of student activists set themselves on fire during public demonstrations.

Such acts are not limited to political protest. In May this year, a 56-year-old disabled man died after setting himself on fire in a dispute with his landlord, and a 29-year-old killed himself the same way in March after his girlfriend rejected a marriage proposal.

The last such self-immolation outside the Japanese embassy was in 2005, when a 54-year-old man set himself on fore during a protest over Japan’s claim to a set of South Korean-controlled islets in the East Sea (Sea of Japan).

7 ( +10 / -3 )

That Korean spirit sure is volatile.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I know self-immolation setting themselves on fire often happens in Tibet like protest towards China. Any common cultural relation with Korea? I mean if in East Asia this kind of self-immolation has some relation with cultural and relegious beliefs.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

What a waste, and for something that happened so long ago and has been apologized for numerous times.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

All this shows is how dangerous SK's love of "branding" itself as the only victims of any war ever are. Japan looks like a grown-up, reasonable country, and Korea looks like a disturbed teenager.

@MyTime, likely it's someone who was on hand to save the person, since they did this for attention and to strike out against Japan, not to actually die. Like the man who "stabbed himself" because of Takeshima/Dokdo, but of course only put the knife about 2 mm inside his stomach, the better to not actually injure himself for a stupid reason.

5 ( +18 / -12 )

Peter Payne AUG. 12, 2015 - 04:35PM JST All this shows is how dangerous SK's love of "branding" itself as the only victims of any war ever are. Japan looks like a grown-up, reasonable country, and Korea looks like a disturbed teenager.

I think anyone who tries to present this incident as representing South Korea in general as opposed to the intentional choice of one South Korean is demonstrating they're probably too wrapped up in promoting one side of this disagreement over the other to be able to discuss it objectively.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Setting yourself on fire for something that happened 70 years ago. Talk about brainwashing the the public to care about non-existent issues, or did he actually have something to say and this is just media spin?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Good. One less nationalist wierdo.

I wish they'd all do the same.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I wonder why did he wait so late at 80 years of age to make such a statement. I wonder if there is more to just doing this?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This is nothing new. South Korea is known worldwide for their demonstrations and has turned it into an art form. They have quite a colorful culture of protesting.

http://www.who-sucks.com/people/the-exciting-world-of-south-korean-protests

3 ( +4 / -1 )

So again, while self-immolation isn't unheard of in South Korea, we are only hearing about it because it happened outside the Japanese embassy, because of the sex slaves (on which score Japan has unresolved business)

Your point? If he is seen as a hero in Korea, I'm sorry for Korea. Because harming themselves to protest against something isn't heroic, in my opinion. I can respect this idea, because of cultural differences, but I can't agree with it, as I already said. How many kids could do the same, for a problem that should be discussed around the table of diplomacy? Do you think it's right some people continue to die just because some politicians, both in Korea and Japan, are unable to deal in a mature way with some matter? You are trying to blame Japan for this man's gesture, and it's absurd. You should try to undesrtand how this kind of extreme gestures are seen in Korea.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

A few years back in Mexico, maybe Can Cun, at the beginning of an international economic summit, some Korean guy came up with the bright idea of soaking himself with GASOLINE and SETTING HIMSELF on FIRE to protest the lowering of tariffs on foreign RICE to be sold in South Korea, they guy burned to death and we Mexicans we quite surprised that anybody could be that stupid, since in Mexico it is only the MAFIA that burns their victims to death with gasoline like this.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Not many people would be brave enough to do that. But, is it going to help the cause? Unfortunately I fear he chose to suffer in vain.

2 ( +7 / -6 )

I respect his gesture, even though I can't agree, I see it as a form of fanatism. I don't know how these acts are considered in Korea, if like acts of patriotism or like signs of a mental desease. I don't know Korean culture.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

I'm not condoning the immolation, just suggesting why it's happening outside the Japanese embassy and not elsewhere

The article already explained the reasons of his gestures, and nobody denied these were his own real reasons. Again, your point?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This is not a good way to protest something. The group this guy is in seems to be a little bit fanatic one even though it isn't. (?) anyway, I really hate being involved things like this because of what our ancestors have done

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This old news is about an Italian man who set himself on fire in front of Quirinale because he was unemployed

Sorry, the man in the news was living in Italy, but he wasn't Italian, he was Romanian. I didn't remember this fact, it's an old news. This confirms my opinion even more: it's very difficult an Italian person can protest this way.

Nobody cares.

I was trying to understand cultural differences, I'm sorry if you think it's not interesting. The article told us that self-immolation is rather common in SK, but it didn't give us any details about the reasons why this happens.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This confirms my opinion even more: it's very difficult an Italian person can protest this way.

for political reasons, I meant. I don't know about Romanian people, but his gesture was more related to personal desperation as well.

Here a list of political self-immolation:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_political_self-immolations

If the list is complete enough, apparently they are not more common in Japan and Korea than in the United States, for example. They are very typical of Tibet.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I dont know, he should have used more gasoline, now hes not a hero, hes a mad man.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Mental note; if you are considering a stunt like that, choose a spot where photographers have a clear line of sight first.

I don't get these protests at all. You have people cutting their own fingers off, stabbing themselves, tearing piglets in half, hammering pheasants to death and now setting fire to themselves!?!

Not the sort of neighbors I would want.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Is this part of the solution? we must question logic behind our actions in light of modern humanistic views.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Self-immolation accomplishes nothing. I personally couldn't imagine setting myself on fire all for the sake of my opinion/belief. The little attention this received is fleeting and will most likely be forgotten by the end f the week.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

We are getting close to the time when there will be no more living witnesses to WW2 and the horrors that came with it. As it fades into history , the anti Japanese sentiment in certain Asian countries will probably do the same - fade away. I think this is a case of an old man still fighting the war and will probably not doing so until he is dead. But also it is acts like these that influence younger thinkers of a new generation and steer them towards the same mindset of resentment over a long since passed time. I guess we will see how strong the historical effects of Japanese imperialism will last? And I do find the comments of "Korean bbq" a bit insensitive.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

My sympathy is with the family of the victim. Our east Asians need to stop fighting each other like wild dogs. How would the future generations face this part of our history while claiming we are a civilization for thousands of years.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Doesn't matter what nationality you are, setting yourself on fire is stupid, plain and simple. May have gotten him more attention than if he had not, but it sure doesn't get him any sympathy or help his cause any.

0 ( +12 / -12 )

@Disillusioned. Right didn't a guy set himself on fire in a bullet train recently? Then there was that guy in Hibiya park who did the same in protest of Abe trying to expand sdf.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This has happened in Japan more recently and more often, but there's no mention of that.

I remember in Japan one man set himself on fire to protest against Abe. And there was an article about that on Japan Today. Are you implying Japan Today tried to censor that fact? Anyway, I don't think this form of protest happens so often how you are saying in Japan, also because I have the impression Japanese people tend to protest less than Korean people. Japanese people are more passive. This old news is about an Italian man who set himself on fire in front of Quirinale because he was unemployed:

http://www.repubblica.it/cronaca/2012/10/18/news/uomo_si_d_fuoco_davanti_al_quirinale-44792312/

But this is a deep cultural difference between East and West, I think: in Italy someone can act like that for personal desperation, not for "patriotism". I don't want to say it's impossible patriotism can be the reason, but almost impossible. I know my country. Italy is a very individualistic society.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Alex80AUG. 12, 2015 - 06:20PM JST This has happened in Japan more recently and more often, but there's no mention of that. I remember in Japan one man set himself on fire to protest against Abe. And there was an article about that on Japan Today. Are you implying Japan Today tried to censor that fact?

Yes, a man set himself on fire in Shinjuku (or was it Shibuya?) last year I believe. There was also the elderly man who was possibly struggling with his pension who set himself on fire on the shinkansen recently.

I can't speak for Disillusioned, but I interpreted what he said to mean not that JapanToday doesn't report on Japanese self-immolations in general, but this article makes no mention of them. As for why that is, perhaps it's because the article was written by Agence France-Presse (AFP), who would have no reason to mention Japanese self-immolation specifically. Perhaps if JT had more articles written by its own staff rather than just re-posting other people's news, we would get more news stories tailored to a Japanese context.

0 ( +1 / -2 )

Ok, for all you naysayers, there has been four similar events in Japan in the last five or six years although, one was not a protest. It was a suicide on the Shinkansen. The last time someone did this in Korea was 2006. Hence my comparison of the Korean events and Japanese events.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

A few years back in Mexico, maybe Can Cun, at the beginning of an international economic summit, some Korean guy came up with the bright idea of soaking himself with GASOLINE and SETTING HIMSELF on FIRE to protest the lowering of tariffs on foreign RICE to be sold in South Korea, they guy burned to death and we Mexicans we quite surprised that anybody could be that stupid, since in Mexico it is only the MAFIA that burns their victims to death with gasoline like this.

I tried to search this news since I'm trying to learn more about the topic. Are you speaking about this guy?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Kyung-hae

They say he stabbed himself, though...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I give attention to people's opinions and essays and so this kind of action, do not stick to my brain after reading,

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Well, it got him in the paper, but I doubt that it had any effect on the issue. Most people, upon hearing something like this, just say, "Oh, another nutcase." Basically, killing yourself isn't a particularly effective way to protest anything. Maybe at some time, in some cultures, it used to be, but now it's just a waste of life.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Serious question: What is the correct procedure for dousing the flames of a person on fire? I learned about drop and roll but not sure about fires starting from fuels like gasoline.

I googled it. http://www.wikihow.com/Put-out-a-Fire

But, this one sight just shows kitchen or camping fires, not self-emoliation.....

But, in all seriousness, this really happened in a rural town recently, when two elderly men were fighting around 6 a.m. One stabbed the other and one of them lit the other on fire. Both caught fire and both are in critical condition. People on the way to school and work saw them. Seems some helped.

So, it seems that this is something we really have to become aware of like AED.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Danny BloomAUG. 12, 2015 - 10:09PM JST No. He is a hero in my book! Has strong feelings used a kabuki style of protest to be heard. Better than an oped. Respect this man. Don't knock him.

'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''

Which Kabuki Drama?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

AGAIN ?! WHO was it THIS time ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I tell you what Alex80, I'm finding it difficult to think of any other society who does such crazy things without rewinding back to the MIddle Ages.

Seems like Korean society is a even more of a pressure pot than Japan and that it needs regular venting.

I suppose that's what you get for decades under a military junta.

Mind you, it still does not match the government coordinated anti-Japan riots in China.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

That's one way to know you're dealing with a person who's having suicide tendencies. They don't usually set themselves on fire though, they can do more socially acceptable hobbies like participating in life-threatening sports or any other form of reckless actions.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This is about as dumb as me lighting myself on fire because Serbians were slaughtered by Croatians in WWII because I am Serbian. Just gotta go in-front of the Serbian embassy in Zagreb.. Like seriously people.. Atrocities are committed during war, but its been 70 years and you are burning yourself alive over it...get over it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Did you not read his age? For him it wasn't his ancestors life, for him it was in his own lifetime.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I did read his age. Which makes it even worse since he is not some half wit teenager. He is an 81 year old man who has some serious mental health issues he needs to sort out.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

He is an 81 year old man who has some serious mental health issues he needs to sort out.

Or maybe, at the end of his life he wants to make a major statement, one that will be heard.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All his protest does is encourage the younger generation of South Koreans to create frictions and bad stigmas with the Japanese. Honestly I doubt it even does that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Repentance for what? It was war. Japan has apologized for comfort women SPECIFICALLY repeatedly, soooooo, what do they want? Money? How about the US starts paying Japan for all the atomic bomb victims? Germans slaughtered millions, Americans dropped nuclear bombs decimating 10s of thousands in a second. Japan and the USA are the best of friends now. get over it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_war_apology_statements_issued_by_Japan

Read it and weep

0 ( +0 / -0 )

2001: Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (Also signed by all the prime ministers since 1995, including Ryutaro Hashimoto, Keizō Obuchi, Yoshirō Mori) said in a letter: "As Prime Minister of Japan, I thus extend anew my most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women. We must not evade the weight of the past, nor should we evade our responsibilities for the future. I believe that our country, painfully aware of its moral responsibilities, with feelings of apology and remorse, should face up squarely to its past history and accurately convey it to future generations" (Letter from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to the former comfort women)

Just one example of the many apologies presented to the comfort women.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you are looking for a uniform agreement you will never have one, just like some people deny that the holocaust ever happened. So you have one dickweek PM who talks out his ass about how things were. a few PMs apologize and one denies it. get over it. here is Abes denial: “The fact is, there is no evidence to prove there was coercion,'' he said this referring to comfort women, essentially stating that women were not forced to act as sex slaves.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So you have the representative of the people denying that the sex slaves even existed, and you think that the people upon who this was perpetuated should just say 'ahh whatever'.

A uniform agreement is one thing, but Japan has never had anything close to that. One apology followed by another denial. They cancel each other out.

That said, good on those who have apologized.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Im pretty sure Abe has been the only one to contest that since the first formal recognition and apology in 1993, however, correct me if i'm wrong.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You're wrong.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lol, well its easy to say "You're wrong." Now provide me with facts proving that I'm wrong, please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

J Alexander Zebeljan and Strangerland, please do not address each other on this thread again, since all you are doing is bickering. Please comment on the story and not at or about each other.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Self-immolation is not that rare in South Korea and was particularly common during the pro-democracy movement of the 1980s and early-90s, when a number of student activists set themselves on fire during public demonstrations.....And?....¿Is this behavior normal? ¿the korean people is "people with trends towar self injury?.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wow!! Those are some sick photos.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

No. He is a hero in my book! Has strong feelings used a kabuki style of protest to be heard. Better than an oped. Respect this man. Don't knock him.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Better self immolation than the terrorist acts others employ. Thank you.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

All his protest does is encourage the younger generation of South Koreans to create frictions and bad stigmas with the Japanese.

Or encourage them to continue to seek proper repentance from the Japanese.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Some people say modern Japan has no real impact on people's lives abroad. This guy sure proved them wrong.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

His action got noticed on cnn bbc german tv australian tv korean tv and in over 90 other national tv networks worldwide! It did have an impact! The man mr choi is a hero. He achieved his goal. How many can say that?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I would question the fact that someone nearby was carrying a blanket when it is 36C. Family member?

Did you even take a moment to look at the pictures, particularly the one on the far right? They were sitting on the ground and in chairs, so it is totally plausible that a bystander had a blanket available to assist with dousing the flames.

Great way to obfuscate the story and try to make it sound something different.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

This old news is about an Italian man who set himself on fire in front of Quirinale because he was unemployed:

Why not take this moment in history to make a real revolution, the revolution of unplugging nuclear forever here.

Nobody cares.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

This has happened in Japan more recently and more often, but there's no mention of that.

I think those photos are pretty gruesome and should have a 'graphic detail' warning on them.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Because harming themselves to protest against something isn't heroic

I'm not condoning the immolation, just suggesting why it's happening outside the Japanese embassy and not elsewhere

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

So again, while self-immolation isn't unheard of in South Korea, we are only hearing about it because it happened outside the Japanese embassy, because of the sex slaves (on which score Japan has unresolved business)

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

I salute the man, Mr Choi. 81, standing up for the ianfu, umcomforted even today. If it takes an old man to wake up those in Japan who still deny the ianfu stories, then more power to old chaps like him. Hope he recovers in hospital. He has earned his karma now. Bravo!

-11 ( +2 / -12 )

SK's love of branding itself as the only victims of any war

Uhh yeah....about that...you see there's this place nearby called "Japan"......

-12 ( +6 / -18 )

Nothing against people protesting for something they believe it is right, but this action just show how problematic he is. He really needs psychological treatment.

@Mitsuo Matsuyama: Don't agree with self-immolation, but then again it wouldn't have happened if Japan had been more honest about its historical issues

-14 ( +4 / -18 )

Oh he might have chosen to immolate himself elsewhere - but it wouldn't have happened outside the Japanese embassy, and we wouldn't be reading about it now. It's a bad way to get peoples' attention - but it wouldn't be happening if Japan was honest about its history. Acting like blood money solved everything in 1965 - and teaching that there was nothing wrong with colonising Korea - does not help

-16 ( +1 / -17 )

A real patriot act indeed

-18 ( +7 / -25 )

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