Saturday, January 2, 2010

Another Reason to Have Joy in the New Year

After 345 days the "Yongsan Disaster" was finally dramatically concluded. Yongsan is the location of the building in which five victims and one police officer were killed, in a standoff with the police who tried forcibly to evict them from the building that was set to be demolished .

The funeral for the victims will be held on Jan. 9. The development companies and Seoul City agreed on a compensation package and will take care of the funeral expenses. The bodies of those five who were killed were awaiting burial in the mortuaries. With this agreement, all will return to normal at the Yongsan site of Masses held during the confrontation. When the good news came, a Mass was being celebrated at the site with the temperature 13 below zero. The Masses and demonstrating will stop, with a final Mass on the 6th of January.

Details of the agreement, such as the amount of the settlement will not be disclosed.

The Prime Minister visited the bereaved families and offered apologies.
The settlement came through the mediation of Seoul City Mayor:
"I am grateful to the religious leaders who assisted in the arbitration and citizens who watched over the incident," Seoul Mayor said. "The city will proactively tackle problems in urban redevelopment in the future."

The Catholic Church was very active in trying to come to a just conclusion to the stand off between the families, the development companies and government. The Cardinal alluded to Yongsan many times and Bishop Choi, who is the bishop in charge of the Bishops' Justice and Peace Committee, also went to the Yongsan site. If it wasn't for the Catholic Priests Association for Justice and Peace, we probably would not have come to this rather belated compromise. The demonstrating will end but it is very clear in the eyes of many that all is not well when it comes to development and the rights of those that are in the way of this development.

Hopefully the words of the mayor will mean something in the future when those with little public backing, the week and poor in our society, are forced to leave their place of work or living, for development projects.

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