Hongdae sees duelling protests on Hong Kong

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Hongdae sees duelling protests on Hong Kong


Left, a group of Koreans and Hong Kong expats rally in support of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement in Hongdae, western Seoul, on Saturday afternoon. Right, Chinese students rally against the movement nearby. [KWEN YU-JIN]

Members of a group supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, mostly Koreans and Hong Kong expats, marched down the streets of Hongdae, western Seoul, on Saturday afternoon, in a show of solidarity.

About 50 people, many wearing yellow helmets and goggles used at some Hong Kong protests, chanted “Fight for freedom!” and “Stand with Hong Kong!” as they urged Korean onlookers to pay attention to the political turmoil unfolding 1,300 miles away.

The group, whose name loosely translates as the Organization of Citizens Who Support Hong Kong Democracy, urged the Hong Kong and Chinese governments to end their “national violence” against Hong Kong protesters.

The group also called on the Korean government to issue an official statement about Beijing’s “human rights violations.”

Around the same time, at a nearby location in Hongdae, a separate group mostly composed of Chinese students studying in Korea rallied against the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement, chanting, “One China” and “I love China.” No physical clashes occurred between the two groups.

Joanne Ho, 24, who graduated from a university in Hong Kong earlier this year, said she came to Korea a few days ago to travel and decided to participate in the Hongdae rally to show her support.

“When I was in Hong Kong, I didn’t know people in other countries had interest in the Hong Kong issue and organized demonstrations,” said Ho. “I’m so grateful.”

Ho shed tears as she explained how she arrived at the rally venue in Hongdae to find so many Korean police officers, who were present to protect the protesters.

In Hong Kong, violent scuffles have taken place between police and protesters.

“I was really scared and worried when I saw so many police officers, but I feel safe now knowing they aren’t here to attack us,” she said.

Several feet away, where Chinese students were waving the Chinese national flag, a 25-year-old student who said she organized that day’s demonstration said what she was doing was part of “patriotism” for her homeland.

“Hong Kong is a part of China,” she said. “We love Hong Kong and that’s why we’re opposed to the violence that’s going on in Hong Kong,” she said.

Asked about her thoughts on democracy in Hong Kong, the organizer refused to answer any questions related to politics.

Other participants in the Chinese rally said the ultimate goal of the “radical” Hong Kong democracy protesters was to “divide” China.

BY KWEN YU-JIN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]
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