Pro-Park rally calls for the imposition of martial law

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Pro-Park rally calls for the imposition of martial law

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Pro-Park Geun-hye protestors stage a rally on Saturday in front of Daehanmun, across the Seoul City Hall, in central Seoul, to call on the Constitutional Court to strike down presidential impeachment. [YONHAP]

In what appears to be the latest force gathering President Park Geun-hye’s strongest advocates from across the country - a tiny but solid conservative base in Korea - waves of protesters took to the streets Saturday to demand the government to re-implement martial law and “wipe all the ppalgaengi from Korea,” a derogatory term for communists.

The rally’s organizing group, the so-called National Coalition of Martial Law Implementation, claimed that the march was attended by 1.5 million people in Seoul alone, though local media find the figure implausible.

Police did not reveal their own count.

The ppalgaengi they were referring to include the 350,000 anti-Park Geun-hye protesters who braved sub-zero temperatures nationwide on the same day to lash out against Justice Choi Eui-yeon for striking down the independent counsel’s warrant to detain Samsung leader Lee Jae-yong, and to denounce former Chief of Staff Kim Ki-choon and former Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Cho Yoon-sun for allegedly blacklisting liberal artists under the pressure of President Park.

The pro-Park rally began at 2 p.m. on Saturday in front of Daehnamun gate in central Seoul, where throngs of Park apologists held a banner urging the government to declare martial law. At one point, a Buddhist monk rose to the center stage and claimed, “all ppalgaengi should be killed.”

Moon Chang-keuk, a former senior editorial writer at the JoongAng Ilbo, who in 2014 was nominated for prime minister, asserted that anyone who approved of President Park’s impeachment was part of “the dark force,” adding he “would like to applaud Justice Choi Eui-yeon for rejecting the detention warrant” for Samsung Vice Chairman Lee.

Moon withdrew his nomination after facing public outrage when it was revealed he had once said in a speech at his church that Japan’s colonial rule was “God’s will.”

A 57-year-old man was booked a little past 2 p.m. at the pro-Park rally on charges of punching a military police officer in the face, according to police. Authorities said the officer had been dispatched for safety control.

Police are also looking into a vandalism case near the headquarters of the JoongAng Ilbo in central Seoul. The glass windows surrounding an outdoor bulletin board that displays the daily papers of the JoongAng Ilbo and its affiliates, including the Korea JoongAng Daily, were found broken Saturday afternoon.

Inside were leaflets criticizing the JoongAng Ilbo and JTBC, a cable broadcaster and affiliate of the paper, which played a pivotal role in the corruption scandal by obtaining a tablet PC allegedly used by presidential friend, Choi Soon-sil, and revealing internal documents in an exclusive series of reports. Police said they were tracking down the suspect and presume it was one of the pro-Park protestors who marched by that day.

BY YU GIL-YONG, PARK SANG-WOOK AND LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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