SOUTH KOREA: Turnabout

The 30 prisoners, roped together in groups of five, filed last week into a dilapidated Seoul courtroom. In a wide plaza two blocks away, a sweltering crowd of 30,000 grim-faced Koreans listened to the proceedings over loudspeakers set up for their benefit. Cordons of police and barriers of barbed wire kept the vengeful crowd away from the courtroom itself.

The judge asked the first defendant his name. "Choi In Kyu." Age? "Forty-two." Occupation? "Unemployed." Assets? Choi answered: "Since the mobs of demonstrators burned down my house last April, I now possess properties worth only from $40,000 to $60,000." To...

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