Anti-FTA rally over weekend only pulls in 2,500

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Anti-FTA rally over weekend only pulls in 2,500

An anti-FTA rally in downtown Seoul on Saturday fizzled, attracting an eighth of the protesters claimed by the organizer.

The demonstration, protesting the ruling Grand National Party’s ratification of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement last month, started off with 100 protesters, including opposition lawmakers and civic organizations, gathering near the Gwanghwamun Square at 4 p.m.

The rally ended at 10 p.m. having attracted only around 2,500 people, according to police estimates.

The organizers of the rally, the Korean Alliance Against the Korea-U.S. FTA, claimed there were 20,000 participants.

On Nov. 25, the organizers initially predicted that “On [December] 3rd, a rally with 100,000 people will be held.”

Though the protesters attempted to occupy Gwanghwamun Square around 5 p.m., police blocked them and the protesters could not enter the square as they did not outnumber the police. Instead, the protesters scattered to occupy some roads nearby City Hall, Jonggak and Euljiro. After some demonstrations on the roads, they dispersed without big clashes with the police.

A clash between protesters and police resulted in 10 protesters being taken away by police.

The participants included members of the Democratic Party and the Democratic Labor Party. DP Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu made an appearance.

Police have seen the anti-FTA rallies fizzle away recently as the number of common citizens participating has dwindled, especially after a high school student made a remark at a Nov. 23 rally. She said, “I came out in the spirit of democracy. However, there are strange influences that have changed the rally.” She said she saw individuals trying to rile up participants through loudspeakers and “after instigating violence, these individuals slyly slip away.”

By Lee Jeong-bong []
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