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Liberals and Conservatives Hold Separate Protests

Posted June. 11, 2008 08:20,   


Liberals against U.S. beef imports and conservatives against the candlelight vigils and urging for immediate ratification of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement held separate protests at Seoul Plaza on Tuesday, the 21st anniversary of the June 10 Democratic Protest.

As the two sides, one with candles and the other with Korean national flags, held their events at the same location, scuffles were inevitable. But there were no major crashes.

A civic group dubbed the “People`s Association for Measures Against Mad Cow Disease” held a candlelight vigil participated by approximately 150,000 people from 7 p.m.

After the gathering ended, participants held a large-scale demonstration in the city center, chanting slogans such as “We Are Against U.S. Beef Imports,” “Stop the Grand Canal Project,” and “Step Down Lee Administration.”

An estimated 50,000 people in 79 cities and counties across the nation participated in candlelight vigils on the same day.

It is the first demonstration of such a massive size to be held in the center of Seoul since March 2003 when people gathered calling for the impeachment of former President Roh Moo-hyun.

Meanwhile, conservative civic groups such as the National League of New Right and the National Action Campaign for Freedom and Democracy in Korea held a national convention to urge for securing law and order and for ratifying the KORUS FTA with some 5,000 people at Seoul Plaza from 3 p.m.

A member of the conservative groups said, “We acted to prevent the candlelight vigils from encouraging anti-American sentiment and escalating into an anti-FTA and anti-government protest, not just a protest over mad cow disease.”

Police ordered the highest level security alert nationwide at 9 a.m. and deployed some 30,000 riot policemen to all protest sites. Among them around 20,000 forces were deployed around Seoul Plaza.

Police also deployed water cannons and blocked roads with containers to prevent protestors from marching towards the presidential office.