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“People`s Power” Demonstrators Attack Conservatives

Posted August. 31, 2003 23:26,   


Members of “People`s Power”, who are mostly members of President Roh’s advocate group ‘Rohsamo’, are raising public criticism after they physically attacked some conservatives who were passing by them when they were staging a demonstration. Also during the incident one conservative felt threatened and fired blank shots from a gas gun.

At around 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 30, around 50 members of “People`s Power” including actor Myong Gye-nam, were staging a demonstration against the tone of the Chosun Daily, in front of the Chosun Daily Building in Chunggu, Seoul. There, they ran into Cho Gap-jae(58), President of the Monthly Chosun and four others, including chairman of the Retired Colonel Association, Seo Jung-gap, who were out for lunch.

The members were demonstrating against the desultory criticism on Aug. 29 of the Chosun Daily that made mockery of President Roh`s remark on “The prosecutors investigated the sons of the former President Kim Dae-jung.”

When the members noticed these conservatives, they surrounded them and demanded an apology for an article on the President Cho`s private web site, saying “he is openly instigating military coup.” Present Cho wrote on his web site on Aug. 24 that “people can exercise the right to resist as the last resort against the dictatorship, in order to safeguard the nation, constitution and freedom.”

According to the police, during the struggle, chairman Seo felt personal danger and fired blank shots into the air.

Chaiman Seo said on Aug. 31, “The demonstrators suddenly sprang on me and grabbed my throat. They threw insulting words, physically attacked me several times with pickets and square bars, and drove me to a corner, so I had to fire the blank shot.” He added. “I was carrying the gas gun for my safety as the North recently mentioned about “punishment” on conservatives in its statement.”

The police said that it does not cause any problem, as chairman Seo got the license to possess the gun on May. 7 from the Seocho Police Station and as he fired the gun into the air.

Lim Chan-kee, the executive secretary of “People`s Power” said, “As pickets were made with tyro foam, no one can exercise violence with it” and “there were some fights while taking the gun away from him but we never grabbed his throat.” Chairman Seo was injured in the shoulders, arms and fingers that it will take him three weeks to heal completely.

The chief of the Criminal Section in the Namdaemun Police Station, Sin Myong-kee said, “It seems difficult to find out exactly who were engaged in the action, as the number of demonstrators exceed 50. Yet, we presume that there were certain physical violence, and under that assumption we are carrying out the investigation.”

Meanwhile, the Association of the Current Affair Cartoonist (Chairman Lee Hong-woo) announced a statement on Aug.31, and said, “The demonstration by the “People`s Power” is a violence that infringes freedom of press and expression.” It also demanded, “The police authority should thoroughly investigate the case and severely punish the ones who are responsible for it, so that same incidents would not recur.”

In-Jik Cho cij1999@donga.com