South Korea vows no tol­er­ance af­ter vi­o­lent protest in Seoul

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

SEOUL: The South Korean gov­ern­ment vowed yes­ter­day to crack down on any more vi­o­lent protests, a day af­ter dozens were ar­rested dur­ing a rally against labour re­forms, the largest street protest of Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye’s term. Or­ga­niz­ers say they will take to the streets again on Dec 5.

More than 60,000 peo­ple took part in Satur­day’s protest, ac­cord­ing to po­lice, and a group of a few dozen fought with the po­lice at the front line, try­ing to break through bar­ri­cades of po­lice buses block­ing off down­town Seoul’s main thor­ough­fare. Po­lice used wa­ter can­nons to dis­perse the crowd and sprayed liq­uid laced with an ir­ri­tant found in chilli pep­per to fight off pro­test­ers swing­ing metal pipes and sharp­ened bam­boo sticks.

“The gov­ern­ment was fully pre­pared to guar­an­tee a law­ful and peace­ful rally, but some peo­ple came pre­pared with il­le­gal equip­ment such as steel pipes and con­ducted a vi­o­lent protest,” Jus­tice Min­is­ter Kim Hyun-woong told a news con­fer­ence. “Th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties were a grave chal­lenge to law and or­der and pub­lic author­ity, and they will not be tol­er­ated.”

The po­lice ar­rested 51 peo­ple and are ques­tion­ing them on var­i­ous charges in­clud­ing il­le­gal protest, as­sault­ing po­lice of­fi­cers and de­stroy­ing pub­lic equip­ment.

The po­lice said about 10 pro­test­ers were in­jured, in­clud­ing a mem­ber of a mil­i­tant farm ac­tivist group who was knocked down by a wa­ter canon blast. He was in stable con­di­tion af­ter emer­gency surgery on Sun­day, a po­lice of­fi­cial said.

Some of the coun­try’s most mil­i­tant la­bor and ac­tivist groups were in­volved in the protests, in­clud­ing Han Sang­gyun, the pres­i­dent of the Korean Con­fed­er­a­tion of Trade Unions, who is wanted un­der a war­rant for or­ga­niz­ing pre­vi­ous il­le­gal ral­lies.

“It was led by some of the most or­gan­ised el­e­ments- labour, farm, an­tipoverty activists, which was a lit­tle dif­fer­ent from when there was more pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion,” said Yu Chang-seon, an in­de­pen­dent po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor.

Pro­tes­tors say the la­bor re­forms ben­e­fit only the coun­try’s huge fam­ily-con­trolled con­glom­er­ates, and make it eas­ier to fire work­ers. Park, who had left ear­lier on Satur­day for Tur­key to take part in the sum­mit of G20 na­tions, has seen her pub­lic sup­port rat­ings fall re­cently over a de­ci­sion to re­place pri­vately pub­lished school history text­books with a gov­ern­ment version.

The protests do not, how­ever, ap­pear to pose an im­me­di­ate threat to Park or her con­ser­va­tive Saenuri Party, which is well ahead in opin­ion polls, scor­ing 39 per­cent in a Gallup sur­vey of 1,012 peo­ple re­leased on Fri­day, while the largest op­po­si­tion party, New Pol­i­tics Al­liance for Democ­racy, polled 22 per­cent. Par­lia­men­tary elec­tions take place next April. — Reuters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.