Many locations in Seoul have been declared “security zones” and closed to protestors
A large anti-Trump picture adorns a sidewalk in Gwanghwamun Plaza on Nov. 2
For the duration of US President Donald Trump’s visit to South Korea from Nov. 7 to 8, most “anti-Trump” assemblies and demonstrations in downtown Seoul will be banned. The only assemblies that will be permitted are those that do not pose problems related to security or Trump’s movements.
The Presidential Security Act allows the designation of a specific area as a “security zone” when the leader of a foreign country visits South Korea. The law also allows the temporary prohibition not only of assemblies and demonstrations but also of the movement of ordinary people in the security zone. In accordance with this law, the police intend to declare the area from the northern part of Sejong Street to the environs of the Blue House (including the area around Gwanghwamun Plaza, where the US embassy is located) as a security zone. And while the No Trump Joint Campaign (representing over 220 progressive groups, including the Korean Alliance of Progressive Movements and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions) submitted applications for more than 50 assemblies, the majority of these were rejected.
The police did decide to approve assemblies planned for the area around the Palpan neighborhood of Jongno District, to the east of Gyeongbok Palace, and for area around the Hyoja Security Center, to the west of the palace. One of these sites will host an assembly supporting Trump’s visit to South Korea, and the other an assembly opposing it. The police have also given the green light to an assembly called Rally for Strengthening the South Korea-US Alliance and Welcoming President Trump, which a conservative group will be hosting in front of the gate to Deoksu Palace in Seoul on the afternoon of Nov. 7.
It’s also likely that the police will ban assemblies around the National Assembly in Yeouido on Nov. 8, when Trump will be delivering his address there. “Assemblies could also be prohibited in a 100 meter radius around the National Assembly if that is deemed necessary for security purposes,” said a spokesperson for the police on Nov. 2.
The Minjung Party, which will be attending Trump’s address in the National Assembly since it controls two seats there, has been organizing anti-Trump demonstrations during what it has proclaimed the “week of action responding to Trump’s visit to South Korea,” which lasts from Oct. 30 to Nov. 8. On Nov. 2, the Minjung Party (which includes figures from the disbanded Unified Progressive Party) held a press conference across from the US Embassy. “We’re opposed to this visit to South Korea by Trump, who is inciting a crisis of war on the Korean Peninsula. He should apologize to South Koreans for his rash words of war,” party members said.
By Kim Nam-il and Heo Jae-hyun, staff reporters
Please direct questions or comments to [email@example.com]