South Korean protesters plan to hold another rally in two weeks after tens of thousands took to the streets of Seoul on Saturday to protest against President Park Geun-hye’s plan to reform the labor market and adopt a state-approved history textbook for high schools.
The demonstrations will be held in 16 cities across the nation on Dec. 19, Joo Je-jun, chairman of policy at Korea Alliance for Progressive Movement, said by phone Sunday. About 50,000 people from some 1,000 groups, including civic organizations and labor unions, rallied Saturday to urge the government to tackle the problems of unemployment and soaring rice prices, and to oppose a plan allowing greater leeway to employers to fire workers, he said. The gathering followed one last month that drew more than 100,000 people.
The protests put further pressure on Park as she prepares to reshuffle her Cabinet, and probably nominate a new finance minister, with incumbent Choi Kyung-hwan said to be stepping down to contest parliamentary elections in April. The person who replaces Choi will need to spearhead labor reforms.
The police’s estimate of the number of people at Saturday’s rally was markedly lower than Joo’s. About 14,000 people marched peacefully through the city center, a police officer at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, who asked not to be identified, said by phone.
A farmer remains in critical condition after suffering a stroke when he was knocked down by a police water cannon during a rally on Nov. 14, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions said on their website. Last month’s demonstration attracted 130,000 people and more than 500 were injured in clashes with police, the confederation said.
A Seoul court ruled Thursday that Saturday’s rally could go ahead, after police tried to ban the protest.
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