South Korea: The Tale Behind a Suicide

Chun Se Yong was only 19 years old when he set himself afire as a protest against his nation's government

On May 1, Chun Se Yong sounded like the last person who would set himself on fire as a political protest. Two university students had just immolated themselves to protest the beating to death of a student demonstrator by police on April 26, but Chun, a 19-year-old sophomore at Kyungwon University, near Seoul, questioned the wisdom of adding to the growing list of martyrs, or yolsa (Korean for honorable man of justice). "We need more dedicated fighters, not more yolsa," the left-wing activist told colleagues at the campus newspaper.

But something changed for Chun in the next 48 hours. About 3...

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