Anti-Free Trade movement brings out the crowds

There is supposed to be a huge rally against the US-Korea free trade agreement (FTA) today in Seoul. I am unable to attend because we have planned Lark's Baek-il (see below) but I look forward to hearing about it.

I am struck though by the anticipated numnbers: 60,000 protestors and 45,000 police!

INSIDE JoongAng Daily: Drivers may want to stay away from central Seoul tomorrow as a massive illegal street protest drawing as many as 60,000 people is expected to snarl traffic, police said yesterday.
The organizers of the “Great National Rally,” consisting of civic, labor and student groups, confirmed yesterday that they will hold the protest as planned despite not having a police permit.
“The government should withdraw its plan to block the protest and respect the attempt of the people to express their political opinions,” said Oh Jong-yeol, chairman of the Korea Alliance for Progressive Movements, a co-organizer of the rally, at a press conference. The Korea Confederation of Trade Unions, Korean People’s Solidarity, and Korean Peasants’ League are among the organizers.
Earlier in the day, the ministers of administration, justice, transportation and labor issued a joint statement demanding that the groups drop the action.
“Police banned the protest as it would likely cause intense gridlock and inconvenience,” read the ministers’ statement. “Holding a massive street rally, about 40 days before the presidential election, would damage social stability and inflict significant harm to the people.”
The protest demands the cancellations of the South Korea-United States free trade pact, the removal of Korean troops in Iraq and the implementation of pro-labor policies.
The group is scheduled to stage the rally at the Seoul Plaza in front of City Hall at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow.
Before the general protest, subgroups are to gather for separate rallies at Seosomun Park, Yongsan Train Station, Jongmyo and in front of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts.
Police will deploy about 45,000 riot policemen to confront the rally. Police also received a report that the protesters may try to break into the Blue House and the U.S. Embassy.
Police say they will block the roads connecting the City Hall area to the Central Government Complex and the U.S. Embassy as a precaution.


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