Tension grows ahead of massive anti-Park rally

November 11, 2016

SEOUL, Nov. 11 (Yonhap) — The South Korean government pleaded for a peaceful demonstration as hundreds of thousands of people are expected to join an anti-government protest Saturday amid rising public anger over President Park Geun-hye’s corruption scandal.

Lee Joon-sik, education minister and deputy prime minister for social affairs, released a statement Friday ahead of the protest that may draw the largest number of participants this millennium.

“The government is concerned that the rally might turn into a massive violent incident and hinder the opportunity (for people) to soundly voice their opinions,” Lee said in the statement.

“We are well aware that our people are disappointed about the latest scandal, and that they are worried about the operation of state affairs,” he said. “The government is putting utmost efforts to run the country and to lead our society in the right direction.”

Protesters join a rally in Seoul on Nov. 5, 2016, demanding President Park Geun-hye step down from office.

Protesters join a rally in Seoul on Nov. 5, 2016, demanding President Park Geun-hye step down from office.

Police expect 170,000 protesters to join the rally, involving 1,500 civic groups, while the organizers put the number between 500,000 and 1 million.

Three opposition parties vowed to join the rally, along with some potential presidential hopefuls, including Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon of the Democratic Party.

The biggest tally was in June 2008, when 700,000 people took to the streets in protest against the import of U.S. beef. The figure hovered around 80,000, according to the police calculation.

The protest is scheduled to start around 4:00 p.m. in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul. The police plan to deploy 25,000 policemen to prevent potential violence.

Organizers estimate 200,000 people joined the anti-Park rally last week, which ended peacefully with no significant damage.

Park allegedly allowed Choi Soon-sil, who holds no government post, to exert influence on state affairs. Choi is also accused of using her ties with the president for illegal benefits.

Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Jung Youn-kuk also called for calm, saying, “(We) are taking citizens’ thoughts very seriously.”

Earlier in the day, Han Gwang-ok, Park’s chief of staff, convened a meeting of senior presidential secretaries to discuss how to cope with the massive rally.

“We are frustrated as there is no progress in the current deadlock,” a presidential official said on condition of anonymity.

The official was referring to a political impasse sparked by the corruption scandal.

Opposition parties have continued to demand Park hand over all of her presidential authority to a new premier, as they continue to cast doubts over Park’s recent offer to allow a parliament-picked prime minister to take “effectual” control of the Cabinet.




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    November 15, 2016 at 7:42 AM

    President Park should resign. Its really that simple.

    At minimum they had 250,000 people show up at the rally to express their thoughts and at maximum 500,000 people. Thats a significant showing anywhere. When the people have lost their faith in government its the beginning of chaos. Hopefully, she will do the right thing and leave government.

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