Mattis provides assurances against N. Korean threat as millions protest impeachment in Seoul

by WorldTribune Staff, March 2, 2017

The United States on March 1 moved to reassure South Korea against the rising North Korea threat, while, in Seoul, millions of citizens rallied against the impeachment of President Park Geun-Hye.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis called South Korean counterpart Han Min-Koo in the wake North Korea’s recent test-firing of ballistic missiles and the suspected assassination of Kim Jong-Un’s estranged half-brother, the Pentagon said on March 1.

Supporters of President Park Geun-Hye rally in Seoul on March 1. / Xinhua

Mattis told Han that “the United States remains steadfast in its commitment to the defense of the ROK,” and that “any attack on the United States or its allies will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons will be met with a response that is effective and overwhelming.‎”

In Seoul, rallies against and in favor of Park’s impeachment took place on March 1, which also marked South Korea’s Independence Movement Day, commemorating March 1, 1919, the day when Koreans united to openly resist the occupation by the Japanese and fought for their independence.

A reported 5 million pro-Park demonstrators called for the nullification of Park’s impeachment, which they say was legally flawed and sparked by false news reports and fabricated evidence.

“We are now living in a prosperous country because we adopted a liberal democracy but because of North Korea, we haven’t fully achieved liberation yet,” said pro-Park demonstrator Jung Dong-Il in a report by the Korea Herald. “I think we are beginning a real civil revolution here to protect the country from communism.”

About 300,000 South Koreans held a candlelight vigil in Gwanghwamun Square in the evening, demanding the court uphold the impeachment.

“It was hard enough to get back this country from Japan and achieve democracy. But then it is sad to see this sharp division within the country when it is already the world’s only divided country,” said Min Sun-Hong, who attended the anti-Park rally. “I hope the court rapidly puts an end to this chaos by upholding the impeachment.”

The Constitutional Court is now reviewing whether Park’s alleged violations of the law and the Constitution are serious enough to impeach her, with the ruling expected before acting Chief Justice Lee Jung-Mi’s term ends on March 13.

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