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  • » 01/02/2009, 00.00

    SOUTH KOREA

    New Year demonstrations in Seoul against the government’s “dangerous” laws

    Theresa Kim Hwa-young

    More than a hundred thousand people, including media and teachers’ unions, take to the streets in a candlelight protest against President Lee Myung-bak’s policies on media, security services and school admission.
    Seoul (AsiaNews) – More than a hundred thousand people demonstrated against the dangerous laws introduced by the government of President Lee Myung-bak whom they accuse of taking the country into anti-democratic direction. These “vicious” laws concern media freedom, the security services and a new nationwide scholastic achievement assessment test or ilje gosa, rejected by many educators and parents as discriminatory.

    On New Year’s Eve thousands of protesters gathered for a candlelight vigil in many public venues set aside to usher 2009, a protest tactic used last year (pictured, June protests against law allowing US meat imports). Even the Bosingak bell tower on Seoul’s Jong-no (Bell Street) was the scene of a demonstration.

    Online meeting places like the Anti-MB Café, the Society of Candlelight Demonstration Arrestees and Citizen Action to Eradicate Traitorous Groups spread the word to get out as many people as possible.

    Trade unions like the National Union of Media Workers (NUMW) and the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union (KTU) also joined the initiative.

    Using candles demonstrators wrote protest slogans on the streets against the policies promoted by the government of the Grand National Party, which holds a comfortable majority in parliament.

    About 160 police squads were also deployed in the Bosingak area to monitor the protest.

    “Today’s candlelight demonstration is a warning that if they continue to ignore the will of the people, they will be judged for it in due time,” said walk supervisor Rev Jeong Yeon-gil.

    NUMW members took part in the demonstration to protest against the government’s media laws, pledging they would continue their action in early 2009.

    About 2,000 union members had gathered in front of the National Assembly building on Wednesday afternoon for a general strike assembly to protect democracy against what they see as a media grab.

    In the evening, they met in front of the Korea Press Center on Sejongno Boulevard for a candlelight demonstration to inform people about the purpose and goals of their action.

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    See also

    09/04/2008 SOUTH KOREA
    Lee tries to confirm his victory in parliamentary elections
    Just three months after his election, the newly-elected president expect South Korea’s 38 million eligible voters to hand him and his conservative Party a much needed majority if they want to implement the reforms they promised.

    10/04/2008 COREA DEL SUD
    Lee’s party wins elections, Seoul now waiting for reforms
    Despite a very low turnout, result allows the president to start promised economic reforms. Pyongyang issues no comment, for now.

    14/08/2007 NORTH KOREA – SOUTH KOREA
    Hopes and doubts ahead of intra-Korean summit
    Pyongyang starts preliminary talks with Seoul in preparation for late August historic summit. But in South Korea there are doubts as well as hopes. At issue are the summit’s location, timing and agenda.

    18/12/2007 SOUTH KOREA
    Presidential elections: waiting for Lee’s victory in Seoul
    A day before votes are cast, surveys indicate that the former mayor of Seoul will win the bid for the highest office. A declared Christian Lee Myung-bak can count less on his party’s political positions than on his own status as a symbol of South Korea’s economic success, rising like the phoenix out of the ashes of war.

    30/12/2008 SOUTH KOREA
    Opposition occupies parliament to stop trade deal with United States
    South Korea’s National Assembly has been paralysed by Democratic Party members who have occupied the main session hall to prevent it from functioning. The bone of contention is a trade deal with the United States estimated to be worth US$ 20 billion. Meanwhile consumer confidence hits lowest level in years.



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