Seoul Plaza to see first political rally this month

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Seoul Plaza to see first political rally this month

A civic organization plans to hold a rally Oct. 30 to remember Chun Taeil, a young garment factory worker, who burned himself to death in 1970 demanding labor laws be enforced.

The rally will be the first case of a politically motivated rally taking place at Seoul Plaza since Seoul Metropolitan Council enforced a bill allowing people to hold rallies at the plaza in front of Seoul City Hall.

The metropolitan government opposes the council's position of allowing rallies and demonstrations — of any sort, including political rallies —at the plaza in the heart of Seoul.

Previously, only cultural events were allowed at the plaza with the permission of Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon.

The use of the plaza is on a firstcome, first-served basis after the Seoul Metropolitan Council revised the rules on Sept. 27.

But the Seoul city government on Sept. 30 appealed the case, asking the Supreme Court to nullify the council's decision to allow people to hold rallies and other events at the Seoul Plaza, saying it is highly likely that the plaza would be overtaken by violent rallies.

More than 10,000 people from liberal organizations — the Korean Confederation of Trade Union and People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy — are expected to participate in the Oct. 30 rally, the Chun Tae-il Foundation announced yesterday.

"This is significant, given that Seoul Plaza is finally being returned to the people with the first rally celebrating the 40th anniversary of Chun's death," said Park Gye-hyeon, director general of the foundation.

The foundation and Seoul city government originally wrestled over using the plaza because Pocheon City Government and the Korea Communications Commission already had registered for hosting separate events at Seoul Plaza on Oct. 30 and 31 respectively.

The foundation originally planned to use the plaza space for two days, Oct. 30 and 31.

Officials at the Chun Tae-il Foundation said Pocheon city government agreed to use the plaza jointly on Sept. 30, which Seoul city government accepted.

The city government plans to hold an agricultural festival.

The Seoul city government is now cautiously watching the moves of the Chun Tae-il Foundation as it plans the staging of a candlelight vigil at the plaza. Chun’s death was a key event in the labor movement.


By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]
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