Day care protestors attack official

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Day care protestors attack official

Over a dozen members of the North Jeolla Child Care Association were booked without detention by Wansan Police for attacking an education official in the provincial assembly building last Saturday, police said Friday.

At 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, as Kim Seung-hwan, 63, the head of the North Jeolla Office of Education came out from a conference room after a regular meeting, 17 owners of day care centers grabbed his collar and other parts of his clothing. They demanded that he designate some of the education office’s budget for a child care subsidy program for children aged from three to five, also known as Nuri Program.

“The provincial education office should grant subsidies for the Nuri Program,” shouted one of the day care center operators.

During the scuffle, Kim’s tie was torn off and the back of his hands were cut. Kim Gyu-tae, 62, the deputy director of the education office, tried to stop the fight and fell down, injuring his eyes, which then began to bleed internally.

Windows in the cross-over bridge that connects the assembly building and the provincial government building were broken during the fight, injuring some workers from the education office as well as members of the child care association.

The police examined footage from the building’s CCTV cameras and those filmed by people on the site and interviewed witnesses to investigate the case.

“The day care center owners accepted their charges but they argue they intended to harm no one,” said a police officer. “They will be sent to the prosecution to be indicted.”

The Nuri program was launched in 2012 with an aim to increase children’s access to child care centers. The program, which grants equal child care subsidies to all households with children aged from three to five, regardless of income differences, became gridlocked as the central government and the provincial education offices disputed who would finance the budget.

Among Korea’s 17 municipal education offices, North Jeolla, Gwangju, Gangwon and Gyeonggi have yet to set aside any money for subsidies in the Nuri Program. The scandal worsened as the central government announced it will only subsidize regions that plan to operate the Nuri Program.

BY KIM JUN-HEE, SHIN SOO-YEON [shin.sooyeon@joongang.co.kr]

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