Baek Namgi, Victims by Public Authorities
Oh Lee Sumin  |  smt_ohsumin@sm.ac.kr
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승인 2016.12.11  00:15:43
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Baek Namgi, a 69-year-old farmer, died at 1:58 p.m.  on September 25th at Seoul National University Hospital.  It was exactly 317 days after falling into a coma brought on by a water cannon blast to his head by police during a rally protesting the liberalization of rice imports on November 14, 2015.  The rally was attended by approximately 64,000 people, and was organized by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU).  Baek, Head of the South Jeolla Chapter of the Farmer Association, collapsed and lost consciousness before being taken to Seoul National University Hospital for a brain hemorrhage.  He was never to rise again.  Sadly, controversy surrounding the cause of his death was strong.  At first the hospital released a statement saying that Baek had died of cardiac arrest following renal failure.  This prognosis ignored the fact that he had suffered a brain hemorrhage after being shot by a water cannon.  Baek’s family spoke out against the hospital’s death report, claiming that the hospital had been pressured by the local authorities to make sure a diagnosis.  Therefore, the Seoul Central District Court approved a police request to conduct an autopsy.  However, thousands of protesters participated in a memorial rally demanding the government conduct a nonpartisan special investigation into Baek’s death and not allow an autopsy to be performed, fearing possible meddling, which may occur in the process due to manipulation of the autopsy results if the government were involved.  After a year conflict, police eventually annulled the warrant calling for Baek’s autopsy, and the Baek family then held a funeral for their father on last November 4th.  

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