“Firm legal actions will be taken against illegal mass demonstrations in violation of disease control measures,” said South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday. He ordered strong responses to the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions’ illegal demonstration of over 8,000 people in central Seoul on Saturday against the disease control authorities’ recommendation.
“We are in an emergency situation again with the emergence of the highly infectious delta variant. Suppressing the growing infection of COVID-19 is critical,” said President Moon at a meeting with his top aides held at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae. “A one-strike-out system, which Ω suspends business operation in violation of disease control measures effective immediately, will be introduced,” said the president. “Local governments of Seoul and nearby regions that are producing a high number of new cases should have a sense of responsibility and make best efforts to prevent further infections.”
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency charged six executive members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, including chairperson Yang Gyung-soo and secretary-general Jeon Jong-deok, with the violation of a law to prevent infectious diseases, general obstruction of traffic, and that of a law on demonstrations and protests and summoned them for investigation. The police also began an investigation for 12 executive members involved in suddenly changing the location of the gathering.
The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions reported at first that its demonstration would be held in Yeouido but switched the location to an intersection on Jongno 2-ga via its internal contact network one hour before the beginning of the demonstration as the police blocked the original location with large buses. “Sudden switching of the location of the demonstration amid concerns about growing COVID-19 infections in Seoul and nearby regions is considered seriously,” said a member of the police.
The police and the Seoul metropolitan government sent notifications on five occasions from June 22 to Thursday banning 231 demonstrations registered by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions in 17 jurisdictions in Seoul. The Seoul metropolitan government is limiting the size of all demonstrations in the city under 10 people according to the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act.