Police nab 72 after protests erupt following Roh rites
Ex-president’s son thanks people for their condolences
|A violent protester brandishing a stick attempts to break a window of a police bus parked in front of Deoksu Palace in central Seoul yesterday in order to block protesters from occupying nearby streets. [YONHAP]|
Following the people’s funeral for the late South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun, protesters demonstrated late into the night clashing with riot police early on Saturday at the plaza in front of Seoul City Hall and nearby streets. Many protesters were hauled away to neighborhood police stations.
Some 2,600 demonstrators from progressive labor, civic and student groups skirmished with riot police after the funeral rites Friday.
Some damaged police buses with hoes, sticks, shovels and plastic pipes after police used force to disperse them. A few even threw rocks before attempting to flee.
Police captured 72 protesters.
Originally, the rally was supposed to take place at the City Hall Plaza at 4 p.m., but the police blocked entry with buses. Some protesters breached police lines at 5:35 p.m. and took over Seosomunno, Taepyeongno and a street near Daehanmun, the main gate to Deoksu Palace.
Due to demonstrators’ surprise occupation of streets around the plaza, traffic was tied in knots. There were some scuffles between drivers and protesters.
The number of protesters began to decline after 9 p.m., and only people holding candles remained behind. The atmosphere calmed, but the rally continued until early the next morning.
“There was a large number of people who wanted to hold a peaceful ceremony in memory of the late former president. Also some people came out to hold a violent rally,” said an officer who requested anonymity. “When a ceremony turns into a political rally, we will disperse participants.”
Meanwhile, a group of mourners, mostly families, yesterday visited Bongha Village, Gimhae, South Gyeongsang, where the former president lived after his retirement, to pay their respects and leave chrysanthemums in tribute. They waited in long lines that stretched from the outskirts of the village to the memorial altar to the former president.
After paying tribute, some mourners examined the cliff called Owl Rock where the late president fell to his death on May 23. Then they visited nearby Jeongtowon Temple where Roh’s cremated remains are enshrined.
Police estimated that approximately 40,000 people visited the village to pay homage following the funeral.
After the seven-day national mourning period, Roh’s son Gun-ho made a public statement expressing his appreciation to the public on behalf of his mother, Kwon Yang-sook. His comments came after the late leader’s remains were placed in the temple early Saturday.
Former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook, who co-chaired the funeral committee, said, “In line with the former president’s will, let us fulfill our jobs and hold hands together to realize the dreams that the late leader pursued for the sake of national development.”
By Lee Min-yong, Jang Joo-young [firstname.lastname@example.org]