Despite its long history, the recent japanese occupation and the civil war, Seoul is today a modern city, with busy districts and constant traffic jams. In fact, Korea faced an incredible fast economic growth in the last decades, moving from a peninsula ravaged by an extremly furious war that litteraly divided the country, to one of the most prosperous economy in the world.
Yet, the change was probably too fast for the very strict korean culture. Hierarchy is everywhere, from school, to company, and your age will give you unofficialy social rights or obligations. It would be hard to summarize all these aspects in few lines, but it has to be said that if koreans live today in a very modern and comfortable world, their society didn’t fully adapt to it.
This is really today a topic that koreans are looking at, especially after the tragedy of the Sewol: a ship which sunked with hundreds of students in beginning of 2014. This incident deeply shocked korean families who hold authorities for responsible of it.
Another example could also be Cheonggyecheon, a modern river, built as a very refreshing pedestrian district in the heart of Seoul. The place is even today one of the most beautiful place of Seoul, and exhibitions, festivals and artistic performances are hold all the year along the river. Yet, this success hide less beautiful practices. The project was brutal and families were forced to move out their home. Corruption and political scandals also emerged.
This is probably the reason why protesters sometimes use the river for attaching ribbons: symbols of the lack of communication between the government and its citizens. This is also the symbol of a society asking for integrity and justice.