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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

We Made It to 100,000 Signatures!

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Great news everyone! We made it to 100,000 signatures on the National Assembly petition! Thanks to all of your hard work to encourage your friends in Korea to register their support, there’s a chance for a new investigation! Plus, Son Jung Min’s father and I connected regarding the international petition. 

Yes, this has been a sad and heavy weekend as the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I was here in Korea when it happened and was stuck here for a few weeks until international flights resumed. You can go to my read my short sassy narrative. I’m sorry, but it still had to be sassy.

Let’s get to some good news. We got to 100,000 signatures for the Korean petition to ask the National Assembly to take the Son Jung Min investigation out of the police department’s hands and place it in another government agency’s jurisdiction where they would do a full scientific-based investigation with full access to the CCTV video footage that evening. Thank you to all of you who worked tirelessly to encourage your friends here in Korea to sign and spread the word.

And just to throw in an unrelated heartwarming incident of Korean people doing great things before we continue to call out and spill the tea on the misbehaving ones, there were massive buycotts of businesses that quietly helped Afghan refugees. If you didn’t know, there was some xenophobic backlash against the Korean government welcoming Afghan refugees. Well, not all Koreans feel that way. Some small businesses like restaurants and farms sent food. And consumers flooded these places with orders to support them. Reportedly, the businesses had to shut down their ordering system for a brief time because they ran out of inventory. So kudos to Korean people who recognize good and act on it directly. They’re everywhere.

Actually, perhaps it is related to Han River Gate because more people are still speaking out against this grave injustice on Son Jung Min’s family and to all of our public safety by successfully clearing this hurdle of the National Assembly petition. The next step is passing the committee that either approves or rejects these petitions from moving to the floor of the National Assembly. I’d like to recommend that Son Jung Min’s father adopt a strategy to push for absolute transparency of who’s on this committee and whether the hearing can be public. We need names! Names of every person on this committee and their accountability. We need to know when they will be discussing the petition and we need to show up. We need to know who their children, aunts, uncles and grandmothers are too. It’s Korea, you know. Increased public accountability is the next step, in my opinion, for creating structural based reform in Korean civil society.

Speaking of Son Jung Min’s father, I emailed him a link to the change.org petition and briefly explained the rationale behind it. He sent me a brief email reply and said he was already aware of it because someone had sent it to him. He said he was thankful for our continued support and said to contact him if we needed any help from him. Actually, I’d like to see if we could help him further in any way, especially with the next step in making sure there is public pressure on these committee members. If the National Assembly demands to keep the committee secret, then I want everyone in the world to know that this shady step operates this way via closed doors as a stopgap measure to subvert the will of the people. I’d also like to ask whether the constitution of Korea allows for a committee to be inserted into the process at this point or whether that was an administrative sleight of hand developed in the age of authoritarian democracy.

Other good news! This weekend, Jong-yee TV (종이TV) – you know the ninja guy – hosted a vigil at SJM’s memorial site at the Han River park. In attendance were SJM’s father and presidential candidate Hwang Kyo Ahn. It was right before we got to the 100,000 signature mark. Some major political pull there.

Here were some of the main points made by Hwang Kyo Ahn:

  • Son Jung Min is a fellow high school alumnus. They went to the same high school so they share that bond, which is huge in Korea.
  • He will fight to the end to bring a structural change so this doesn’t happen again.
  • Son Jung Min is a son of Seoul. And a son of Korea.
  • Our country should’ve protected Jung Min. We should’ve protected Jung Min. We still have not protected Jung Min. How has Korea come to this point.
  • We must figure out what happened to SJM. Who did it. And how. The family wants to know. The country wants to know. And I want to know.
  • The people who were supposed to take responsibility betrayed that trust. And instead, you are here to support the effort to uphold justice.
  • I won’t forget. I want you to remember. 
  • We must find SJM’s wrongdoer. And as God as my witness… I mean… as the citizens of this nation as my witness, we will expose them and make sure it will never happen again with a new system to prevent it.
  • We must do our best to relieve the suffering of SJM’s parents and all of the parents of children of Korea. Please join us.
  • How did you feel when you first heard about the case? Even though he was legally an adult, he was still a young child at heart. A son. A precious, wasted life. How did we give this amount of pain to SJM’s family. The investigation was supposed to be handled by the police. As someone who has a background in investigations, I want to assure you that we will investigate properly. 
  • We must think how we would feel if this happened to our child. How would we feel if the investigation were stuck this way for this many months? With no resolution?
  • What will be your role in transferring this investigation to the prosecution?  It’d be great if there were 1 million people who sign the petition. This investigation is most likely still in the hands of the police and not the prosecution. I will pressure the police on the investigation. I want to remove any deadlines on this investigation and give it the time it needs to find out the truth. I’m not just going to use words, but I will back it up with judicial action.

Here were some of the main points made by SJM’s father: 

  • Thanks to Hwang Kyo Ahn who took time out of his busy schedule.
  • Thanks to everyone who came out and carved time out of their busy schedule.
  • I understand now the preciousness of each and every signature in this journey to 100,000 signatures for the petition.
  • I wouldn’t have been able to have withstood this experience if it weren’t for your support and encouragement.
  • I know Jung Min won’t come back so during those times when I asked myself whether I should go on with this, it’s your passion that kept me going. Thank you truly.

During the songs, there were brief conversations between Hwang Kyo Ahn and SJM’s father. It seems that they were talking a bit strategically as well. Was SJM’s father motioning to the drainage tunnel?

Thanks to all who commented on the last video.

It does seem like either it’s the spirit of SJM talking to us. Giving us affirmation.

Or a monitoring device set inside the tunnel sending signals that interfere with the phone.

Or both?

And astute observers about the fisherman who was extra shady… it’s not deep enough for bass and that fishing rod was like child’s play. No chair. No tackle box. Didn’t even look like he had bait. Was he going to catch and release? That backpack certainly would not hold a fish. He was weathered in the face even though from far away he looked young. That area is also not zoned for fishing. It starts where the fishermen claimed to have been when they allegedly saw someone swim into the river that night SJM went missing and exclaimed how refreshing the water felt with all their clothes on.

Upon further reflection, is that when the helpers – particularly the Burberry woman – dragged SJM into the water or the drainage tunnel? The fishermen did say they couldn’t tell whether the figure was a man or a woman. And the Burberry woman did go down the embankment around the time they claim to have seen the figure enter the water. 

There are still so many unanswered questions. We absolutely need a scientifically based investigation into Han Rivergate.


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