With rock mu­sic and pinatas, S Kore­ans rally against Park

De­mand­ing res­ig­na­tion

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

South Korea is see­ing its biggest wave of street demon­stra­tions in decades, but gone are the raised fists, fly­ing rocks and po­lice wa­ter can­nons that had sym­bol­ized the in­ten­sity of the coun­try’s protest cul­ture.

For the tens of thou­sands of peo­ple who filled a ma­jor av­enue in down­town Seoul for the fourth straight yes­ter­day, de­mand­ing the res­ig­na­tion of scan­dal-rid­den Pres­i­dent Park Ge­un­hye has be­come a form of fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment. That means rock mu­sic, com­edy, open mics and pinata bash­ing. “My kids are hav­ing fun ... they just love these plas­tic horns,” said Hong Seonok, who sat on a mat­tress with her three daugh­ters, the old­est of them 10. “I def­i­nitely wanted to come out and show my daugh­ters we can ac­com­plish some­thing by protest­ing.”

Po­lice said about 170,000 peo­ple turned out for the lat­est anti-Park protest in streets near City Hall and a boule­vard fronting an old palace gate, where a week ear­lier, hun­dreds of thou­sands marched in what may have been the largest protest in the coun­try since it freed it­self from dic­ta­tor­ship three decades ago. Protest or­ga­niz­ers sized Satur­day’s crowd at 600,000.

Demon­stra­tors also marched in streets near the pres­i­den­tial of­fices, car­ry­ing can­dles and illuminating cell­phones, and shout­ing “Park Geun-hye step down” and “Ar­rest Park Geun-hye.”

State prose­cu­tors pre­pare to ques­tion Park

The rally came as state prose­cu­tors pre­pared to ques­tion Park over sus­pi­cions that she al­lowed a se­cre­tive con­fi­dante to ma­nip­u­late power from the shad­ows and amass an il­licit for­tune, a scan­dal that crit­ics say un­der­mines the coun­try’s democ­racy.

On Sun­day, prose­cu­tors plan to in­dict the con­fi­dante, Choi Soon-sil, and two pres­i­den­tial aides who al­legedly helped her in­ter­fere with state af­fairs and bully com­pa­nies into giv­ing tens of mil­lions of dol­lars to foun­da­tions she con­trolled. The protests con­tinue to draw peo­ple from all ages and re­gions, in­clud­ing many fam­i­lies with chil­dren.

Peo­ple swayed to the mu­sic of the rock band Deul­gukhwa, which played in front of a mas­sive video screen on a tem­po­rary stage that has be­come the cen­ter of the ral­lies. Ear­lier Satur­day, chil­dren threw bean bags at a Park pinata, which burst open to re­veal a Choi pinata. Pop­ping out from the smaller pinata was a Bar­bie doll on a stuffed horse, meant to be Choi’s daugh­ter, an eques­trian ath­lete who al­legedly got a vir­tual free pass into an elite university be­cause of her fam­ily’s pres­i­den­tial ties. Nearby, ac­tors im­per­son­at­ing Choi and Park en­cour­aged pro­test­ers to mock them. “Satire, not anger, is the strong­est form of ex­pres­sion,” said Lim Ok-sang, an artist who cre­ated the pinata. For teenagers stuck in South Korea’s hy­per-com­pet­i­tive school en­vi­ron­ment, the al­le­ga­tions sur­round­ing Choi’s daugh­ter, Yoora Chung, 20, seemed to be their biggest source of anger. In South Korea, grad­u­at­ing from elite uni­ver­si­ties is seen as im­por­tant in ca­reer and even mar­riage prospects.

“We in­vest blood and sweat into our stud­ies to get into a good school, and it’s dis­heart­en­ing to see how ev­ery­thing was so easy for Chung,” said Moon Jeong-ju, a high school stu­dent who took an eight-hour bus ride from the south­ern city of Sun­cheon to par­tic­i­pate in the rally.

On Fri­day, South Korea’s Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry said it de­manded that Ewha Wo­mans University can­cel the ad­mis­sion of Chung af­ter it found that the school had ma­nip­u­lated its ad­mis­sions process to ac­cept her. Em­bold­ened by the huge protests in re­cent weeks, op­po­si­tion par­ties have been step­ping up pres­sure to force Park to quit.

On Thurs­day, they used their par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity to pass a law that would al­low for a spe­cial prose­cu­tor to in­de­pen­dently in­ves­ti­gate the scan­dal and po­ten­tially ex­pose the pres­i­dent’s wrong­do­ings. There is a grow­ing voice within the op­po­si­tion that an im­peach­ment at­tempt is in­evitable be­cause it’s un­likely Park will re­sign and give up her im­mu­nity from prose­cu­tion. —AP

SEOUL: South Korean pro­test­ers hold up cards dur­ing a rally call­ing for South Korean Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye to step down yes­ter­day.—AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.