President, NIS the targets of Saturday protest

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President, NIS the targets of Saturday protest

More than 10,000 protesters rallied Saturday in a central part of Seoul to demand a special investigation into the activities of the National Intelligence Service and an apology from President Park Geun-hye, with some calling for her resignation.

During the protest, police resorted to using water cannons to disperse a reportedly rambunctious group of activists illegally occupying roads in the Jongno and Myeong-dong areas. The group of protesters - made up of 25 civic and labor groups - began an “emergency rally” at about 3 p.m. at Seoul Station. Approximately 11,000 people attended the demonstration, according to police estimates. Organizers claimed that the number of participants was significantly higher at 20,000.

During the rally, the protesters held up picket signs and chanted slogans criticizing the top spy agency for its alleged online smear campaign against Democratic candidate Moon Jae-in ahead of last year’s presidential election. The group began to march around 5 p.m., making its way from Seoul Station to the Euljiro area and causing heavy traffic congestion.

At the intersection between Jongno and Jongno-3 subway stations, approximately 5,000 protesters illegally occupied the road, confronted police and refused authorities’ requests to disband. Officers used water cannons to disperse the group. The police said that some of the protesters had broken away from the areas previously reported to authorities in a notice of assembly and had illegally blocked traffic lanes. They added that they would make sure to find those responsible for illegal acts committed during the rally, which led to an “extremely heavy traffic jam” that lasted about 80 minutes on the multilane road.

At about 6 p.m., the remaining protesters moved to Seoul Plaza to join a candlelight vigil demanding the reform of the NIS after its alleged smear campaign ahead of the election.

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