The U.S. is terribly wrong to have a rosy view of the so-called “pro-democracy activists” in South Korea as some kind of idealistic progressives equivalent to the American liberals.
(1) South Korean liberals (운동권 in Korean) were notorious for studying and being inspired by the writings of the deceased North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung, who promoted the so-called “juchea Ideology”, or self-reliance, ideology, which has become the state ideology of North Korea. These activists were hard core ideologues and were widely referred to as the “juche ideology faction” in campus politics, and many of the key cabinet members in South Korea belonged to this faction in their student days.
(2) They are unequivocally hostile to the U.S. and will do their best to undermine U.S. interests and influence in South Korea.
(3) The way they use the word “democratic” may be closer in meaning to the word “democratic” in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea than what you think of when you hear the word “democratic”.
The so-called “pro-democracy activists” and “progressives” in South Korea are really North Korean minions.
(1) They vehemently oppose any discussion of human rights in North Korea. In fact, they view defectors from North Korea as “traitors”.
(2) They oppose American troops in South Korea and even oppose nuclear energy plants that have nothing to do with weapons. However, they consistently fail to criticize North Korean nuclear weapons programs.
(3) They vilify past authoritarian South Korean leaders as “military dictators” and deny that their leadership propelled the country’s economic development. However, they never criticize the generations of North Korean dictators who starved millions of their own people to death. Likewise, they are never critical of the Chinese dictatorship.
(4) They hold the U.S. responsible for Korea’s division and the bloody war. However, they never criticize the Soviet Union or the Chinese military intervention that destroyed the dream of unified Korea.