The same double standardsThe police’s signature double standards are nothing new. While police officers strictly controlled car rallies by self-employed business owners on Wednesday, it showed leniency toward the large-scale protest by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). The way the police deal with demonstrations does not change. Police officers were sitting on their hands during the KCTU protest in central Seoul on July 3, but they set up a barricade with hundreds of buses when a conservative civic group staged a rally in Gwanghwamun Square on Aug. 15 to protest against the Moon Jae-in administration.
The night-time car rallies across the country on Wednesday by the pandemic-stricken self employed — the first of their kind — in protest of the liberal administration’s stringent social distancing rules clearly represent the pain and desperation being felt by the people. They appealed for help after being “pushed to the edge of the cliff” due to the government’s ban on opening shops after 10 p.m. As many as 1,000 cars took part in the rally in Seoul alone, and all of them, including in eight other cities, were honking the dots and dashes of the morse code for SOS at the same time.
According to an emergency committee representing mom-and-pop store owners, their debt has topped 66 trillion won ($56.5 billion) over the past 18 months and 453,000 restaurants, stores and other shops have already shut down. They complained about the government’s measures to sacrifice them, accounting for 20 percent of the entire population. A government setting up 21 checkpoints in Seoul to block cars from entering the capital, taking pictures of those cars, and levying 40,000 won fines for disturbing the traffic goes too far.
But the police are powerless before the militant KCTU. After occupying the control center of Hyundai Steel in South Chungcheong since July 23, 1,100 members of the umbrella union once again staged an illegal rally on Wednesday demanding the company directly hire all its contract workers. The police set up a barricade of buses in advance, but to no avail. Police officers show no sign of disbanding them despite growing safety concerns.
That’s not all. A senior member of the union of home-delivery services covering Gyeonggi Province under the KCTU even demanded that local agents pay his daily allowance as he participated in a rally in another place. The shocking scene of the member kicking a non-union member in the chest two years ago was captured on CCTV. Another agent committed suicide after suffering persistent bullying from union members. What have the police done so far?
To address the people’s despair, the law enforcement agency must scrap its double standards first.