[EDITORIALS]Protest the protests

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[EDITORIALS]Protest the protests

The police have prevented labor interest groups from holding demonstrations in downtown Seoul.
The action that they took is based on a law that allows them to prohibit or restrict demonstrations and gatherings on major streets to maintain the flow of traffic. It is a job well done, though a tad late.
Since President Roh Moo-hyun came to power, demonstrations on major streets have become noticeably more frequent, blocking the traffic every other weekend.
These gatherings have frustrated not only the Seoulites who have to fight through the rallies, but also the taxi drivers and shop owners whose businesses have been seriously damaged.
It has gotten to the point where shop operators on Seoul’s Daehangno, a popular protest site, staged a rally of their own in protest against the demonstrations.
To foreign tourists here, this is no longer just the Republic of Korea, but the Republic of Chaos.
In a democratic society, everyone is entitled to the freedom to assemble, but no one should cause trouble for others. And yet it has become a regular occurrence to see a group of demonstrators blocking streets in the heart of the city as the police looked on with their arms folded.
Maybe the police have woken up, but this is only the beginning. Regional police must follow suit.
While we’re at it, we should also strive to eliminate illegal, violent demonstrations.
The same protesters who staged quiet rallies against South Korea signing a free trade deal with the United States in Washington, D.C. are swinging bats against Korean police officers.
That is because while the U.S. police are strict when faced with illegal and violent demonstrations, their Korean counterparts are too scared to act with the proper measure of authority given to them by the law.
The fundamental responsibility for police is to maintain law and order, and to ensure the public’s safety. We urge the Korean police to abide by the law and its principle.
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