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Anti-U.S. beef campaign struck with 10 arrests

Aug 14,2008
Striking back against the recent series of anti-U.S. beef protests that nearly paralyzed the nation, police arrested one of the suspected leaders of the rallies yesterday.

Police also nabbed nine people they say were responsible for posting on the Web the personal information of a group of business owners who filed a suit against a demonstration-organizing group.

Park Seok-woon, 53, who police say was behind dozens of protests in downtown Seoul against the government’s decision to open the local market to American beef, was detained under laws prohibiting unlawful assembly, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency announced yesterday.

Park, the head of the standing committee of progressive group Jinbo Corea, was arrested at around 12:30 a.m. yesterday near the group’s office in Yeouido, central Seoul on his way home from work. Police said they are questioning him about his involvement in 58 rallies between May 6 and July 5, during many of which demonstrators scuffled with police officers and obstructed traffic.

Both Jinbo Corea and the group calling itself the People’s Conference Against Mad Cow Disease have strongly criticized the arrest, calling it illegal.

“Police ignored the Miranda rule when they detained Park,” Jinbo Corea members said in a statement. “This is clearly an autocratic state. Police should immediately release him.”

Also arrested were nine people who posted on the Internet the real names, ages, phone numbers and business addresses of 115 Gwanghwamun-area restaurant owners who filed a class-action suit against the People’s Conference Against Mad Cow Disease in mid-July. As a result, the business owners said they were subjected to threatening anonymous phone calls.

“The Web postings resulted in defamation of character and obstruction of business,” said a police officer who declined to be named. “In addition, we will soon round up seven people who threatened the owners by phone,”


By Park Sang-woo Staff Reporter [spark@joongang.co.kr]



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