"Are You Doing All Right?" Favorite 

Practitioner: 

Date: 

Dec 1 2013

Location: 

South Krea

The following description is taken from the website of Aljazeera America (find link below):

In early December, Ju Hyun-u, a student at South Korea’s elite Korea University, taped up two white sheets filled with his handwriting on a campus bulletin board. His message began with a question, “Are you doing all right?”.

Ju’s poster listed a raft of national issues, beginning with the layoffs of more than 4,000 striking railway workers. He then questioned the Korean government’s attempts to unseat opposition lawmakers and imprison its critics and wrote about the elderly villager who committed suicide to protest a nuclear-powered utility project in the southern city of Miryang. Ju appealed to his fellow students. Given all these societal problems, could they stand idly by? He asked again, “Are you doing all right?” and signed his name.

What happened next was nothing short of remarkable.

Within days, the walls at Korea University and other universities were lined with dozens of additional posters. Messages proliferated nationwide. On the "Can't Be Okay" Facebook page that Ju created with a fellow student, submissions flew in at the rate of two to three a minute. Signed by people from all walks of life, the posters brimmed with impassioned testimony and political arguments. By mid-December, Miryang villagers who had traveled to Seoul to protest the power plant project found themselves cheered on by hundreds of young people who arrived in the freezing cold to hear them speak. At rallies against rail privatization, citizens took the stage alongside railway workers to voice their support for the strike.

In a nation where relentless economic competition and rising social inequality are growing concerns, Ju’s question has become a release valve for the discontent of his generation and beyond.

Posted by Yoav Halperin on