No left or right in the battlePresident Moon Jae-in ordered strict action against the defiance by the Korean Confederation of Trade Union (KCTU) after the combative group refused to hand over a list of union members who had participated in a rally in Jongno, downtown Seoul, on Aug. 15, the day when a number of infections sprouted. “There should not be any partiality in the government’s quarantine measures,” a presidential spokesman said.
Authorities have been conducting a broad inspection after a member from the KCTU rally tested positive. But the umbrella union group has been reluctant to comply with the government’s broader quarantine order by insisting that all its members had worn masks and face shields on the day of the rally.
The KCTU’s event on Liberation Day was reduced in scale. And the event took the form of a press conference after the Seoul city government had put the ban on assemblies that day. Still, about 2,000 members attended.
To stop further spread, quarantine authorities must know the exact identities of the participants and check their health conditions. The KCTU claims it had notified members to comply with test requirements. However, “our members were turned away by clinics running short of medical supplies and manpower after mandatory checkups were restricted to those who had been at the rallies at Gwanghwamun Square on the same day,” said the union.
The government had been strict on the conservative group — which had a larger-scale rally on Aug. 15 at Gwanghwamun Square for an antigovernment protest — even by tracing their identity through wireless base stations. But the government had been neglectful of the rally led by the union members. The government moved to check on the KCTU rally after the conservatives strongly protested its impartiality.
Authorities belatedly asked wireless carriers to trace the identities of the union members after President Moon ordered that the same quarantine guidelines be applied to the KCTU assembly. Authorities must ensure that there is no left or right in defending public health.