South Korean protesters hold new anti-government rally | News | DW | 05.12.2015
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South Korean protesters hold new anti-government rally

Protesters have staged a rally in Seoul calling for President Park Geun-hye to resign. It comes just weeks after farm and labor activists clashed with police at a demonstration in the South Korean capital.

Police estimated that some 14,000 people attended Saturday's rally, far fewer than the 60,000 people who turned out on November 14 to protest proposed reforms to labor laws that would make it easier for companies to lay off workers.

Protesters at the rally on Saturday, many of whom were masked, reiterated calls for the law changes to be dropped, but they also called on President Park Geun-hye to apologize for heavy-handed police action at the November protest, where dozens of people were injured.

The government has said groups of militant protesters were responsible for the violence, with Park comparing the masked demonstrators to terrorists. Police used tear gas and water cannons after officers were attacked and police buses were damaged.

Failed injunction

The protest on Saturday went ahead after a court on Thursday rejected a government request to ban the rally for public safety reasons.

The marchers went to an area near a hospital where a protester remains unconscious after falling down and hitting the back of his head under last month's water cannon onslaught.

Demonstration Seoul Südkorea

Police used water cannon mixed with pepper spray at the November rally

Protesters also denounced Park's decision to introduce government versions of history textbooks in schools, which they say is a bid to gloss over human rights violations carried out by military dictators in South Korea until the mid-1980s.

Farmers, for their part, are concerned that imports of Chinese agricultural products could rise under a free-trade agreement with Beijing that was recently ratified by parliament.

Surveys show broad support for Park's labor plans, which, by making it easier to fire workers based on performance and capping the salaries of senior employees, aim to encourage employers to hire younger people. A Gallup poll released in September showed more than 70 percent in favor of the moves.

tj/sms (AP, Reuters)

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