Illegal protest tents that were set up near the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul’s Jongno district have been forcefully removed by administrative authorities.
“We have forcefully removed nine protest tents, which were installed illegally on the pedestrian sidewalks near the fountain in front of the presidential office for two hours from 9 a.m. in accordance with the administrative ordinance implementation process,” the Jongno-gu ward office said on Sunday. The site had a number of tents installed by several groups such as the National Civil Servants Union, the struggle committee for reinstatement of dismissed workers under the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union, and an organization seeking the release of former Unified Progressive Party lawmaker Lee Seok-ki.
Before enforcing administrative ordinance, the ward sent those organizations an administrative order “to voluntarily remove the tents by 8 a.m. on June 29,” but they failed to voluntarily remove the tents by the deadline. The Dong-A Ilbo reported on Thursday that local governments failed to crack down on illegal tents that had been kept for a long time in many parts of Seoul.
Sunday’s administrative operation to remove the illegal tents mobilized more than 50 officials from the ward office and private manpower agencies, some 240 police force, and firefighters. Physical clashes occurred during the operation as protestors of the civil servants union and the teachers union resisted the move to demolish the tents, saying “stop removing tents by force.” “We have removed the tents by force, because we have received a flurry of civil complaints from people for inconveniences caused by those tents illegally installed on pedestrian sidewalks, and because we also had U.S. President Donald Trump visiting Korea,” a Jongno ward official said.
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