Even after Cho quits, duelling rallies continue on
A coalition of local civic groups that had been holding candlelight vigils near the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office (SPO) in Seocho District, southern Seoul, since mid-September relocated to the National Assembly in Yeouido, western Seoul, last Saturday and held its 10th rally calling for prosecutorial reform, the dissolution of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) and the establishment of a special law enforcement body to investigate high-level government officials, prosecutors, politicians and former presidents as well as their relatives.
The organizers said some 100,000 people came to Yeouido on Saturday evening for the demonstration, which began at 5 p.m., though police did not release their own estimate.
“After hearing the news about Minister Cho’s resignation, I couldn’t stay home,” said a male protester from North Chungcheong who refused to give his full name. “I’m going to join the rally until Minister Cho’s prosecutorial reform plans are realized.”
Cho stepped down on Sept. 14 after just 35 days as head of the Justice Ministry as prosecutors intensified their investigations into his family’s academic and financial dealings.
A separate group held a smaller rally near the SPO at the same time, also to call for prosecutorial reform.
Earlier on Saturday at Gwanghwamun Square, central Seoul, near the Blue House, the LKP organized a massive anti-Moon rally from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. demanding Cho’s detention and Moon’s impeachment and to oppose the establishment of the special law enforcement body. The LKP said nearly 100,000 people gathered.
Later that evening, some people at the Gwanghwamun Square rally traveled to Seocho District near the SPO to continue their protest.
Police said about 8,400 officers were dispatched to Yeouido, Seocho and Gwanghwamun for crowd control on Saturday.
“I came out because I’m so mad,” said Choi Won-ki, 64, who participated in the Gwanghwamun anti-Moon protest.
“As shown in the Cho Kuk scandal, the country has lost any sense of justice. I will continue to join rallies to show the government how angry the members of the public are.”
Kim Min-seok, 24, expressed opposition to the Moon administration’s North Korea policy.
“I think it’s really anachronistic for the president to say we must always be on intimate terms with North Korea,” said Kim. “I think both the government and the ruling Democratic Party are caught in the past.”
Rep. Jeong Yong-ki of the LKP mentioned a recent football match between the two Koreas and blamed the South Korean government for trying to push for a joint Summer Olympics in 2032.
“[South Korean] player Son Heung-min said he felt lucky he was able to return without getting injured [during the rough game]. What country can’t even protect the safety of its own athletes?” said Jeong.
“And for the president to still be pursuing a joint Olympics in Seoul and Pyongyang, can he call himself the president of South Korea?”
BY LEE HOO-YEON [firstname.lastname@example.org]