One abusive rally outside a president's house leads to another
Raucous protests outside the rural retirement home of former president Moon Jae-in became a nationwide war Tuesday after a pro-Moon media outlet organized a counter-rally in front of President Yoon Suk-yeol's Seoul residence.
The rally’s organizer, Baek Eun-jong, who runs the pro-Democratic Party (DP) online outlet Voice of Seoul, set up eight loudspeakers and two large amplifiers at 2 p.m. across the street from the Acrovista apartment compound in Seocho District, southern Seoul, where Yoon and first lady Kim Keon-hee are living as their formal presidential residence is renovated.
Over the loudspeakers, demonstrators called on Yoon to apologize for the rallies outside his predecessor’s residence in Pyeongsan Village in the town of Yangsan in South Gyeongsang.
“Yoon Suk-yeol should apologize for encouraging degenerate gatherings in Yangsan!” chanted one demonstrator holding a microphone.
Baek said 500 participants showed up for the rally, though the number could not be verified.
Before becoming a target for a rally himself, Yoon expressed concern about the conservative rallies outside his predecessor’s residence.
According to a presidential official, Yoon asked aides to try to simmer down the abusive protests outside Moon’s home.
“The protests mixed with profanities and insults have brought inconvenience to the former president and his wife,” a presidential official told the JoongAng Ilbo over the phone on June 5, “and even the villagers are at the point of being hospitalized [because of the disturbances]. President Yoon is very concerned about this.”
Shortly after Moon and Kim moved into their retirement home, conservative protesters set up loudspeakers in front of the house, drawing crowds of people and engaging in minor scuffles with police.
While the Moon administration's policies, such as Covid-19 vaccinations that led to some deaths, are the focus of some protests, others are simply abusive, repeating profanities, incoherently demanding Moon to apologize, or accusing him of being a spy for North Korea.
Residents of the village have complained about suffering sleep deprivation, loss of appetite and needing psychological treatment.
On May 31, Moon and Kim lodged a complaint against four protesters from three conservative civic groups, accusing them of spreading false information, defamation and repeatedly using abusive language.
They also accused them of violating the Assembly and Demonstration Act, which protects against unlawful demonstrations and bans assemblies that threaten public peace, and the Act on the Punishment of Violence, which punishes threats of murder and arson.
Some experts suggest that a revision of the Assembly and Demonstration Act is needed to minimize public inconvenience from protests mounted by extreme political partisans while guaranteeing freedom of expression.
BY MICHAEL LEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]