Solidarity with Myanmar in Northeast Asia
The global community has stood witness to the Myanmar military’s coup d’état of February 2021, the subsequent resistance of the Myanmar people against the undemocratic actions of the junta, and the violence that has since been perpetrated by security forces towards demonstrating Myanmar citizens. International outrage and condemnation of the military junta has followed, and calls for solidarity with the Myanmar people have been heard throughout the world. However, amidst the continuing pandemic, global interest in the situation in Myanmar has waned over the past few months.
In this installment of News from Northeast Asia, we examine South Korean and Japanese responses towards recent events in Myanmar, with particular focus on efforts that have been made to encourage solidarity with the Myanmar demonstrators and how they have been received by the general public. In “Virtual Solidarity with Myanmar in South Korea through Hashtag Activism,” Jungwon Huh of Seoul National University Asia Center explores how social media has played a critical role in the formation of South Korean solidarity with Myanmar citizens. The fact that South Korean reactions to the events unfolding in Myanmar, rather than the events themselves, may have more heavily influenced online responses for solidarity with Myanmar citizens demonstrates the importance of active and vocal support for the pro-democracy movements in Myanmar. Youth Action for Myanmar (YAM) has played an essential role in organizing such needed support for Myanmar citizens. Mya Kay Khine of Seoul National University, who is a member of YAM, introduces the various efforts undertaken by this organization in “2021 Spring Revolution and Activities of Myanmar Youth in South Korea.” Of all countries of Northeast Asia, Japan has the longest history of engagement in Myanmar in the modern era. It is also the greatest contributor of Official Development Assistance to Myanmar. In “Japanese Society and Myanmar: Past Engagements, Present Responses,” Inaba (Fujimura) Mai of Kwangwoon University traces the deep relationship between the two countries, as well as the interactions that have been taking place between Japanese citizens and Myanmar residents in Japan as a result of the current events in Myanmar.
Ilhong Ko, HK Research Professor, Seoul National University Asia Center; Regional Editor of News from Northeast Asia, firstname.lastname@example.org