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Seoul mayor should return Gwanghwamun Plaza to citizens

Posted May. 30, 2015 07:09,   


Seoul mayor Park Won-soon on Friday criticized the police for launching an investigation into senior city officials on charges of dereliction of duty for having failed to remove tents set up at a downtown plaza by bereaved families of last year`s Sewol ferry sinking. "If (the police) want to arrest somebody, they should arrest me," he said, after the police summoned Im Jong-seok, the city`s vice mayor for political affairs, for questioning. The remarks are not appropriate for a mayor who is responsible for the illegal tents. Im has virtually been summoned in lieu of the mayor.

"(If they want to remove the tents,) they should detain Vice Mayor Im," Park said. "Then, he will certainly be elected in next year`s general elections. I will be elected automatically, too." Is he saying that this is a time of dictatorship, under which pro-democracy figures are oppressed by the police? Park said that the tents neigher disturb traffic very much nor violate law or regulations. It is none other than Park who levied occupation fees on the tents for violating the city`s ordinance on the use of the Gwanghwamun Plaza. It is outrageous to say that the tents that have been occupying the center of the plaza for over 10 months are not illegal.

When the bereaved families put up tents at the Gwanghwamun Plaza on July 14, 2014, Seoul set up an additional 13 tents around them to protect them from emergency situations. Prior to that, the Seoul mayor did not do anything about incense-burning altars for victims of a labor dispute at Ssangyong Motors Corp. in front of the Deoksu Palace under the excuse that it was the Jung District Office`s responsibility. The Gwanghwamun Plaza is the Seoul Metropolitan City`s responsibility.

The first anniversary of the Sewol disaster has passed, and a fact-fining committee is set to be launched. Park, who has bonded with the bereaved families more than anyone else, is the right person to persuade them to pull down the tents. French citizens do not put up such tents at Champs-Elysee in Paris or the British at The Mall in London, even if they become victims of a tragic accident. Now it is time for Park to persuade the bereaved families to accept that with a fact-finding committee about to operate, they should remove the tents and return the place to Seoul citizens.