Clashes with police in anti-government rally in Seoul
15 November 2015, Nirapad News: Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of central Seoul Saturday in a massive protest against the conservative government’s drive for labor reform and state-issued history textbooks.
Police sprayed water on the crowd, estimated to number about 50,000, as some protesters attempted to push through barricades at the rally outside City Hall in central Seoul, reports asiaone.com.
Ahead of the rally, labor unionists scuffled with scores of plainclothes policemen to prevent the arrest of the
head of the militant Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), who showed up for a press conference near the
Labor activists successfully blocked police from arresting KCTU President Han Sang-Kyun, who has been sought for
leading outlawed labor strikes last year and May Day protests this year.
‘Down with (President) Park Geun-Hye,’ the unionists chanted following the scuffles, calling her conservative government ‘fascist’, a journalist on the scene said.
Authorities said they had mobilized 20,000 riot police for fear that the protest might turn violent.
Organizers of the protest said there would be a march toward the presidential Blue House, a move which is likely to spark a clash with police.
Participants, many of whom were bused in from across the country, chanted slogans demanding the withdrawal of a government labor policy which KCTU says benefits businesses by keeping wages low and making it easier for
companies to fire activists.
They also condemned the opening of protected markets for some agricultural goods and a plan to impose government-issued textbooks on schools starting in 2017.
The textbooks have become a bitter ideological battleground between left and right in South Korea, with critics accusing Park’s administration of seeking to deliberately manipulate and distort the narrative of how the South Korean state was created.