Gwangju and the Hunger Games

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kuan

A few years ago, I listened to an academic lecture about regional prejudice in South Korea, particularly in connection to the 1980 protests in the city of Gwangju, which were subdued violently, further aggravating those prejudices. The entire Gwangju region underwent years of retribution, starved as well as denied jobs and education. That situation reminded me of the Hunger Games; during the mass advertisement of its next film version, I have been expecting to hear if Gwangju was its inspiration. The closest I see on the internet is talk of how close the Hunger Games books and films are not to South but totalitarian North Korea.

According to The Iron Flute, back in the Middle Ages, Korea commissioned a giant statue of Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of Compassion from China. When the statue reached the dock, no one could budge it into the ship. So it remained in China. This story has become a Zen Koan, ending with the question: Why when Avalokitesvara is everywhere should he refuse going to Korea?

Is compassion really everywhere? In Toulouse, France, a day ago where police killed the eco-activist? Or two days ago amidst the riots in Mexico City and Mombasa? And what about Ferguson? Perhaps Avalokitesvara saw no point in traveling because compassion is needed everywhere.

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