On November 14, farmer Baek Nam-Ki was knocked over by police water cannon during a protest in downtown Seoul. He went to Gwanghwamun with his fellow farmers to protest against the government’s agricultural policy and to appeal their demand of guarantees to maintain the price of rice at higher than 210,000 won per 80 kilograms. Unfortunately, the protest went violent and the protesters and police clashed. The protesters tied ropes to the police buses and set some of their vehicles on fire. The police brought water cannons to hold back the violent protesters and one of the cannons was aimed straight to Baek Nam-Ki’s head. The police were told not to shoot the water cannon above the chest and the pressure was over 10 atmospheres which was three atmospheres higher than the recommended guideline. Moreover, Baek Nam-Ki was struck by the water cannon from less than 20 meters away which was also in violation of the rule. He was immediately taken to Seoul National Hospital to undergo brain surgery due to the damage. However, he remained unconscious by traumatic cerebral hemorrhage until the last moment, but police are arguing that there could be an external cause of the farmer’s death and claim an autopsy will clarify the cause of his death. This is an act of the government to deny that the water cannon wasn’t crucial. They have also made a so called “red raincoat” story which they suggest is the external cause of the farmer’s death. In the video where Baek Nam-Ki was hit by the water cannon, a man wearing a red raincoat runs to save him from the blast but falls on him due to the water pressure. Before Baek Nam-Ki passed away, the police didn’t take the ‘red raincoat’ seriously, but after his death they suddenly raised the theory to request a second warrant which was criticized by the public for their inconsistent behavior.
On the death certificate of Baek Nam-Ki, it is written that he had an unnatural death but the students of Seoul National University expressed objections to the death certificate. “My father's death clearly resulted from being shot by the water cannon. We refuse to have an autopsy because the cause of death is certain and evidence is substantial," Baek's daughter said. Baek Nam-Ki’s family is making a strong stand against the autopsy and said that proceeding it will break their heart once more and they feel an autopsy by authorities is untrustworthy. Fortunately, Baek Nam-Ki’s family were able to hold it off until October 25th, which was the day the warrant expired for the autopsy. The police dispatched 800 officers to execute the warrant, but failed to do so because of the hundreds of protesters blocking the entrance. The police are still seeking a way to proceed with the autopsy. Furthermore, a TV program had an experiment to see how strong the water pressure was that hit the farmer’s head. They aimed at a pile of bricks with the same power that struck Baek Nam-Ki. The result shows that the water cannon is capable of knocking over bricks. Ironically, the experiment from the police didn’t even break a glass which raised doubts of their credibility.
Baek Nam-Ki’s death is obviously due to the water cannon and compensation for the bereaved family should be taken care of by the government.
|Baek Nam-Ki immediately crashed to the ground due to the power of the water cannon|
By Jeong Seung-in, reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
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