Candlelight protests continue to burn bright

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Candlelight protests continue to burn bright

Even in the sub-zero cold that has recently hit the nation, candle lights will burn for the eighth week running in the streets of Gwanghwamun.

Protesters from all over the country plan to hold another candlelight vigil on Saturday to call for the resignation of President Park Geun-hye and the punishment of her associates, not only in the streets near the Blue House, but also in cities outside the capital. The peaceful protest, which began on Oct. 29, also celebrates its 50th day.

As the Constitutional Court has begun deliberating on the impeachment motion, Saturday’s protest will include a march towards the Prime Minister’s official residence and the Constitutional Court, situated approximately one kilometer (0.62 miles) apart, to pressure the court into heeding the calls of the nation.

“Justice delayed is justice denied!” cried a rally organizer. “The prosecutors and hearings have already confirmed the crucial parts of the allegations and there is no reason to delay the final decision.”

Protesters also demand that Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, currently the acting president, step down, as he “has collaborated in bringing about this scandal.”

The rally officially begins at five o’clock, an hour earlier than usual given the cold weather. Organizers also plan to symbolically throw out handcuffs and ropes for Park, but as a conservative civic group in opposition to the impeachment has reported it will hold a counter protest nearby, possible conflict between the two forces has police on alert. The pro-Park protesters also plan a march near the Constitutional Court.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government is discussing ways for the protesters to get back home safely, such as increasing the number of buses and prolonging the departure time of the last train.

In Chuncheon, some 500 people plan on gathering in front of the Saenuri’s lawmaker Kim Jin-tae’s office. Kim was harshly criticized by the public for his comment saying that “candles will all go out when the wind blows” and “public sentiment will always change.” Meanwhile, Kim revealed his plan to participate in the conservative group’s rally to oppose the impeachment of the president.

Other major cities to light candles include Incheon, Busan, Daegu, Wonju and Gwangju. In Gwangju, up to 30,000 people are expected to show up, including Park Won-soon, the mayor of Seoul.

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]

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