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Protesters Rally on Streets

Posted June. 07, 2008 08:39,   

한국어

On Friday, the second day of the “72-Hour Relay Action of People,” the People’s Council Against the Import of U.S. Beef with Mad Cow Disease Risk held a rally attended by around 30,000 people at Seoul Plaza in front of Seoul City Hall. The protesters later moved to the street.

About 300 protesters from the previous night’s rally on Thursday had camped out all night in about 30 tents set up around Seoul Plaza and Cheonggye Plaza.

▽ Police did not prevent street rally

The protesters gathered again around Seoul Plaza from noon on Friday. At around 1:50 p.m. about 3,000 people advanced to the road.

Among them about 2,000 moved through Sejongno and Anguk-dong and approached Samcheong-dong, which is close to the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae, but returned to Sejongno passing by the Constitutional Court when blocked by police.

The rest marched to Anguk-dong after reaching Sungnyemun, joined the 2,000 protesters who were waiting at Sejongno and moved to the road around Seoul Plaza at around 5 p.m.

Among the protesters were many teenagers and youths in their 20s, many of whom are members of online communities such as Agora, an online community at Daum.

The people’s council held a rally to criticize the Lee Myung-bak government for neglecting the people and enforcing the notification. About 2,000 citizens attended the rally from 4 p.m. at Marronnier Park in Daehangno, Seoul.

United Democratic Party lawmakers Chung Sye-kyun, Song Young-gil and Choi Jae-sung were present at the rally. Unlike the street protests many citizens attended with their families.

Despite the notification by police banning the rally to prevent traffic jams, protesters moved out on to the street earlier than expected, at 4:30 p.m., and reached Seoul Plaza through Jongno and Euljiro. They joined the candlelit vigils at around 6 p.m. Because police did not block the protesters, no altercations occurred.

▽ Uneasy sharing of Seoul Plaza

Until Friday afternoon, protesters opposing the imports of U.S. beef and a group paying tribute to the espionage agents dispatched to North Korea uneasily shared the space.

The situation continued until around 7 p.m. when members of the Headquarters of Intelligence Detachment, consisting of former espionage agents and special intelligence unit members, ended their memorial ceremony and withdrew from Seoul Plaza.

From Thursday afternoon, 200 HID members set up about 7,700 memorial tablets for the war dead and three large Korean flags, and each bowed 108 times in memorial.

The people’s council was pushed out of Seoul Plaza and set up tents on the pavement surrounding it, turning the space into a campsite.

In the eastern part of Seoul Plaza where the Seoul Women`s Squash Open 2008 is being held until Saturday, tents were also set up, and citizens walking by Seoul Plaza faced inconveniences having to avoid tent ropes.

On the Internet, some citizens denounced HID for deliberately changing the venue for the event from Pangyo, Gyeonggi Province, to Seoul Plaza to interfere with the vigils, after 15 executive members of HID attended the luncheon for distinguished servicemen to the state at Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday.

The group explained, “[The executive members] attended the luncheon at Cheong Wa Dae with 250 other members of relevant organizations, and the reason we changed the venue to Seoul Plaza was because it is easier to access and the hall in Pangyo was too narrow to hold more than 200 people.”