by WorldTribune Staff, June 25, 2019
Tents erected by conservative activists calling for the release from prison of former President Park Geun-Hye were demolished by government workers deployed by the Seoul’s Mayor Park Won-Soon, according to video and news reports.
The government and judiciary under President Moon Jae-In has jailed journalists, controlled social media and quashed dissent since taking power after the 2016 impeachment of anti-communist former President Park, according to reports by the East Asia Research Center headed by Dr. Tara O.
Some 500 municipal officials, aided by 400 hired demolition workers, raided tents installed on Gwanghwamun Square by the Korean Patriots Party (or, Our Republican Party) in protest over the prolonged imprisonment of Park, the Korea Times reported on June 25.
“The officials and workers tore down two tents and a shade canopy before dawn after clashing with about 400 party officials and supporters who put up a fierce resistance against the forced demolition,” the report said.
Related: Seoul’s media crackdown prompts statement from Foreign Correspondents’ Club, March 18, 2019
The demolition began at 5:16 a.m. after a city government official read a notice on the execution of an administrative order in front of the tent protesters, who then resisted by throwing plastic water bottles and other objects at the officials and demolition workers.
According to officials, about 40 people were rushed to a nearby hospital, but none of them sustained serious injury. Police detained two hired demolition workers and two party officials for allegedly using excessive violence during the clash.
In addition to Park Guen-Hye’s release, the party has also demanded a thorough investigation into the deaths of five protesters during rallies in 2017 which protested the impeachment of the former president.
Before the June 25 incident, the city government had repeatedly threatened to demolish the tents on Gwanghwamun Square since they were erected last month, the Korea Times report said.
The Seoul government plans to ask the political party to pay for the demolition cost of 200 million won (US$1730,000) and other expenses, the report said.
Meanwhile, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) said a group of its lawmakers were recently refused entry to a naval base.
LKP floor leader Rep. Na Kyung-Won and several other lawmakers sought to visit the South Korean Navy’s 1st fleet in Samcheok, Gangwon Province, to protest the apparent mishandling of a North Korean boat that recently crossed into the South’s territorial waters without being detected, the Korea Times reported.
The defense ministry of liberal President Moon Jae-In did not allow the LKP members to enter the compound, the report said.
The defense ministry said “The visit may negatively influence the military officers’ ongoing security missions and their morale. The ministry will fully cooperate with future visit requests if the National Defense Committee of the National Assembly were to make them.”
Meanwhile, the LKP has stepped up criticism of the government for the country’s security loopholes after visiting Samcheok.
Na held meetings with officials of the Korea Coast Guard and fishermen in the region. “The LKP raises questions over the security loopholes of the country, its cover-up and the repatriation of two North Koreans to the North,” Na was quoted as saying to Yonhap.
After meeting with those officials, Na told reporters, “I found out that the country has been facing security loopholes. Adding to the security collapse, allegations of government coverups have been found one by one. The LKP will push for a National Assembly investigation into the North Korean boat case after its fact-finding team finishes its investigation.”
Their move came after Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-Doo made an apology over the minister’s apparent security lapse and promised a thorough investigation into the case. Conservative parties have called for a thorough investigation into what happened and the resignation of Minister Jeong for failing to maintain national security, the Korea Times report said.
Rep. Kim Young-Woo, head of the LKP’s investigation team on the North’s boat, accompanied Na to Samcheok. He also joined in the criticism. “The country cannot be protected if the military is getting worried about Cheong Wa Dae’s reactions while Cheong Wa Dae is getting worried about the North’s reactions. National defense is systematically collapsing.”