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Public criticism made a peaceful rally on Saturday

Posted December. 07, 2015 09:01,   


The second massive demonstration led by the Korea Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) ended peacefully on Saturday. The peaceful protest was, above all, thanks to the public opinion. Protestors were under fire when the detailed video footage of violent protests organized by the union on Nov. 14 was aired on the media. As criticism grew over them, even some religious leaders and opposition party lawmakers who support the union have urged for a peaceful rally. It had no choice but to accept a peaceful protest out of the concern that a violent protest like the previous one would only lead to more public criticism. The union announced a third round of a protest on Dec. 19. A peaceful rally and protest can take root only when the public keep an eye on it.

A country where a peaceful rally and protest becomes news is not normal. It reminds us how violent protests organized by the KCTU had been. It is nonsense to claim that a peaceful protest was made possible on Saturday because police did not show overreactions such as building walls with police buses. Police said that they would track and heavily punish those who are engaged in violence while wearing a mask, which also contributed to preventing violence in the protest. The illegal protestors of the KCTU who hid behind masks flinched at the announcement. Police need to identify the masked violent protests and punish them.

Han Sang-gyun, the leader of the KCTU who led the first round of the violent protest, hid in the Jogye Temple. The deadline that the temple’s monks and believers allowed Han to stay passed yesterday. Venerable Dobeop of the Hwajaeng Committee for Peaceful Debate of the Jogye order, persuaded Han Sunday to leave the temple but Han rejected the offer. Han is a criminal suspect for whom the court issued a preliminary arrest warrant. As the Jogye Temple offered Han a hideout for over 20 days, he led the second round of a protest through a video message and ridiculed the governmental power. Upon returning home after an overseas visit, President Park Geun-hye rebuked Interior Minister Chong Jong-sup, but it was too late.

Though the rally on Saturday was said to have been peaceful, the protestors occupied two lanes of the road from the Seoul Station Plaza to the Seoul National University Hospital, causing inconvenience to citizens all day long. Rallies and protests on almost every weekend are jeopardizing the livelihood of small merchants and taxi drivers. The downtown can be free of traffic jam caused by demonstrations on weekends if police could have leeway to encourage protestors to have a rally outside the city like those in developed countries.