From now on, nighttime is the right time to rally

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From now on, nighttime is the right time to rally

Following the lapse of a law banning evening and night demonstrations, Koreans took to the streets across the country yesterday.

According to the National Police Agency, 89 post-sunset outdoor demonstrations took place in Seoul alone yesterday, and police estimate 3,442 night rallies are registered across the country for this month.

An independent trucker’s union held a demonstration in front of Seoul’s Samgu Building on Hangang-ro from 6 p.m. yesterday to urge their employers to improve truckers’ welfare. The truckers’ union informed police it will continue its rally until July 15.

“We registered a nighttime rally because it’s convenient for truckers to meet after work,” an official with the union said.

In the past, a law prohibited rallies from sunset to sunrise, but it was struck down by the Constitutional Court last September as a violation of freedom. The court gave the government until June 30 to pass new legislation, but an impasse in the National Assembly prevented lawmakers from meeting the deadline. The old law lapsed, and now rallies are legal at any time.

The Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union plans to organize a nighttime rally in Gwanghwamun on July13 when the national student assessment tests take place. “The only difference between nighttime and daytime rallies is the time when they’re held,” an official with the union said. “There’s nothing wrong with holding a nighttime rally.”

To prevent rallies from turning violent, police said it won’t accept applications if they include marching in the streets. When a rejected group applies for a second permit, police will ban them from nighttime rallies.

Police will also form police lines around rally venues, and participants will be prohibited from crossing the lines.

“Compared to daytime rallies, nighttime rallies have more impact on individual’s privacy, such as the people’s right to rest, and that’s why nighttime rallies should be sternly treated whenever there are illegalities,” a police officer said.

Meanwhile, now that nighttime rallies are legal, organizations are wrestling over the best venues.

“Areas like Gwanghwamun are hot rally venues regardless of whether it’s day or night because a lot of people pass the area,” the Jongno police officer said. “Competition to have the rallies in Gwanghwamun and Bosingak pavilion is fierce as they are regarded as the most ideal sites for rallies.”

By Kang Ki-heon, Jeong Seon-eon []
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