Government makes threats with biggest protests since 2008 coming to Seoul

Posted on : 2015-11-14 13:57 KST Modified on : 2015-11-14 13:57 KST
Teachers groups are single out with government finger wagging as they get set to protest state-issued history textbooks
Rain drips like tears over a statue of Jeon Tae-il
Rain drips like tears over a statue of Jeon Tae-il

On Nov. 14, the largest demonstrations will take place in various parts of Seoul since the candlelit vigils in opposition to American beef in 2008.

The demonstrations, which are protesting the current government’s efforts to unilaterally push through the policies of state-issued textbooks and labor market reform, are expected to bring out around 100,000 people, both members of 53 civic groups, including the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, and members of the general public.

On Nov. 13, the government responded with a joint statement from various ministries warning of a harsh response and promising to hold protestors strictly accountable for the most trivial violations of the law.

Both the police and the prosecutors set up working groups to ensure security and are planning to set up vehicle barricades, making it likely that there will be a sharp clash between demonstrators and the government.

At 9 am on Friday, the ministers and vice ministers of five government agencies – the Education Ministry, the Justice Ministry, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs, and the Ministry of Employment and Labor – held a press conference at the main government office in Seoul and released a statement about the demonstrations scheduled to take place downtown on Nov. 14.

“If protestors commit any actions that violates the protocol outlined in the law or that causes harm to other citizens, no matter how trivial those actions may be, we will respond swiftly and firmly to hold them strictly accountable for it,” said Justice Minister Kim Hyun-woong.

The government also expressed its intention to sternly punish specific groups, including public servants and teaching staff.

“I want to make it clear that we will hold public servants strictly responsible for leading or participating in any illegal activity that is subject to prosecution under the law, and that we will also take every measure to prosecute such individuals,” said Interior Minister Chung Chae-gun.

“Let it be known that the Education Ministry is planning to take strict measures according to law and principle in regard to any behavior that does not conform to the duty of an educator,” said Education Vice Minister Lee Young.

On Friday morning, the prosecutors also held a meeting with related organizations that was presided over by the head of the public security division of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office. “We are planning to take firm measures that accord with law and principle in regard to members of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union (KTU), who have threatened to use their yearly leave to hold rallies and issue statements,” a spokesperson for the prosecutors said after the meeting.

Even though the authorities were duly notified of these large-scale demonstrations, not only government ministries but also the police and the prosecutors are sternly talking about the possibility of prosecution and mentioning specific organizations and occupations, increasing the likelihood of a clash.

“If a legal demonstration is branded as an illegal action in advance and if inappropriate force is used on the day of the demonstration, we will also take the appropriate measures,” said KTU Spokesperson Song Jae-hyeok.

“The government and politicians talk about helping out the people at every possible opportunity. But instead of listening to the actual voice of the people, the government holds a press conference and threatens to interfere with the demonstration,” said Kim Yeong-ho, chair of the National Farmers Alliance.

By Choi Hyun-june, Kim Mi-hyang and Jung Hwan-bong, staff reporters

Please direct questions or comments to []

button that move to original korean article (클릭시 원문으로 이동하는 버튼)

Most viewed articles