Police’s green strategy let ‘MB OUT, Void Ratification’ slogan resonate all over downtown Seoul

Disclaimer: The following is a totally unauthoritative personal translation of an article appeared in an online mediaon December 3, 2011, covering the nation-wide all-at-once people’s movement to denounce KOR-US FTA. Rights concerning this post stay with the authors of original article or withand this post will be scrapped immediately at their request accordingly. Original article of this post can be found in the link at the bottom.

Police’s green strategy let ‘MB OUT, Void Ratification’ slogan resonate all over downtown Seoul … ‘Denunciation of KOR-US FTA’ protests spread nation-wide

Report of nation-wide multi-city all-at-once protests for KOR-US FTA denunciation

3일 2011년 민중대회
Participants of “2011 people’s rally” held at Seoul station square in 3rd afternoon are marching in Cheonggye square direction from Jongro 1-ga. ⓒ Lee Seung-bin 이승빈

All over Seoul downtown was covered with ‘MB OUT, Void Ratification’ slogan … Citizens’ participation heats up as days go by

Citizen’s fervor and spirit demanding the denunciation of KOR-US FTA do not show any signs of cooling down. Rather, citizen’s participation piles up as time goes by and opposition parties, prompted by this circumstance, also progress to streets more proactively, which renders the KOR-US denunciation candlelight rally situation is expected to drag much longer than first thought.

Today’s all-at-once protests took place major cities across all country including Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Gwangju, Jeonju not only drew more participation from ordinary citizens but also intensified as days go by.

In particular, as police’s recent counteractive measures intensify not to spare even former or incumbent representatives and high ranking officials as witnessed by targeted tear gas solution attacks on former Minister of Government Administration and Home Affairs that takes direct charge in police matters, citizens’ response escalates proportionally. On 3rd, street protest that trod along ‘Seoul station – Gwanghwamun – Jongro – Uljiro – Namdaemun – Jongro’ route took place in Seoul; citizens burned a portrait picture of President Lee Myung-bak in Daegu and a model of KOR-US FTA in Jeonju.

KOR-US FTA denunciation candlelight rally that started around 4PM on 3rd continued until 9PM in the evening drawing about 10,000 citizens.

Police who had yielded Gwanghwamun square to candlelight citizens one week ago on 26th last month mobilized maximum force (113 companies 11,000 forces) today, revealing their intention not to give up ‘the square’ to citizens easily again.

Despite such policy, however, more and more citizens turned up to the street and eventually nullified the policy, opening the square to public again by themselves.

경찰과 대치하는 참가자들
Participants of “2011 people’s rally” held at Seoul station square in 3rd afternoon are holding their grounds in front of Le Meilleur Jongro Town building shouting ‘Void KOR-US FTA! MB OUT! Disband Grand National Party (GNP)!’ slogan. ⓒ Yang Ji-woong 양지웅

Representatives of opposition parties, responding to citizens’ such request, came down to streets more proactively. Against police’s preemptive lock-out policy, representatives of 5 opposition parties appeared in the Gwanghwamun square around 3:30PM, blaming police who disapproved political party’s speech assembly that is protected by law, and aired the beginning of candlelight rally.

At that place were supreme member of Democratic Party (DP) Jeong Dong-young, leader of Democratic Labor Party (DLP) Lee Jeong-hee, leader of the Participation Party (PP) Rhyu Si-min who have been in the front line of KOR-US FTA candlelight rally all the time as well as leader of DP Sohn Hak-gyu and former prime minister Han Myung-sook, which added more impetus to citizen’s momentum.

The leader of DP Sohn Hak-gyu urged “President Lee Myung-bak might have thought citizens’ protests might end in one or two days but even judges now raise questions about ramifications of KOR-US FTA. Humbly accept people’s opinion, please.”

The leader of DLP Lee Jeong-hee warned “Even judges now protest thinking that KOR-US FTA will infringe our judicial sovereignty. People are actually giving last chance to President.”

Representatives of opposition parties also pitched high against government’s efforts to gag people’s voice through police force.

Rep. Gwon Young-gil (DLP) said “It is outright illegal to stop people from attending legally protected political party speech rally using police force. We will surely ask police’s responsibility to their current illegal actions.”

The leader of PP Rhyu Si-min blamed “When President Lee Myung-bak and Rep. Park Geun-hye were staging street rallies in Cheonggye square to protest the revision of Private School bill, participatory government guaranteed them. If you have sense of shame, President Lee Myung-bak should retract police force. Or citizens will not recognize you as a proper protector of constitution any more.”

When representatives of opposition parties were protesting against police’s preemptive lock-out at Gwanghwamun square, clashes between citizens who tried to enter Gwanghwamun square and police who blocked them broke out place over place around Gwanghwamun square.

As police would not allow people to enter Gwanghwamun square to the last although they piled up as time goes by, they eventually spilled into streets around 5PM.

3일 2011년 민중대회
Finishing press conference at Gwanghwamun square, opposition party representatives are progressing to the road while “2011 people’s rally” was held at Seoul station square in 3rd afternoon. ⓒ Lee Seung-bin 이승빈

Bursting into Jongro street, citizens protested police for not approving assembly and demanded denunciation of KOR-US FTA to government. To this, representatives of 5 opposition parties joined citizens and filled the whole Jongro street with angry blames to Lee Myung-bak’s government. Citizens on Jongro street, putting leading figures of opposition parties like Sohn Hak-gyu, Lee Jeong-hee, Rhyu Si-min in front, proceeded a march starting from Jongro through Uljiro, Namdaemun, city hall square to Youngpoong bookstore near Cheonggyecheon (stream) over an hour shouting ‘MB OUT! Void Ratification!’ slogan in unison.

During this, the number of citizens swelled as time goes by, reaching about 10,000 in organizer’s estimate around 7:30PM immediately before the candlelight rally.

Also, even though traffic jams took place all at once temporarily in downtown Seoul while ralliers’ march proceeded around major streets, not only citizens on the pedestrian sidewalk but also passengers on buses and cars that could not move due to the march were witnessed to shout and cheer along with marchers rather than complaining inconveniences to marchers.

Consequently, government and police who would not let Gwanghwamun square out to citizens had to unmistakably watch all Seoul downtown including Jongro, Uljiro, Sejongro becoming squares and being filled up with citizens’ angry voices of ‘MB OUT! Void Ratification!’ slogan.

무대에 오른 야당 대표자들
Political party leaders Lee Jeong-hee (DLP), Sohn Hak-gyu (DP), Sim Sang-jung (Unification Solidarity) are making speeches on stage in KOR-US FTA block rally held in 3rd evening at Cheonggye square, Seoul. ⓒ Yang Ji-woong 양지웅

The sense of ‘triumph’ could be noticed even from citizens who gathered at the candlelight rally that started around 7:30PM after the march. On their free speeches, representatives of opposition parties and ordinary citizens cheered each other in unison by “let’s bring more people on 10th. President Lee Myung-bak will have to kneel down if we continue this.”

The leader of DP Sohn Hak-gyu said “Lee Myung-bak’s government must have been pricked by the report that ordinary citizens warmly cheered those marchers who objected KOR-US FTA and shouted anti-governmental slogans.” The leader of DLP Lee Jeong-hee announced “support for the public opinion that we should denounce KOR-US FTA even now already surpassed support for the other opinion that there is nothing we can do now since it’s already over.”

Since the candlelight rally on 26th last month, government and conservative news media tried to stop the spreading of anti-KOR-US FTA sentiment by depicting citizens who object KOR-US FTA as a violent group of people. But, as more than 10,000 people surged to today’s candlelight rally again as had been in last week’s rally, people’s anti-FTA sentiment is proved to heat up even more.

On top of that, scenes like citizens joining and cheering the candlelight march while watching it in the sideline were witnessed many times, proving that public opinion is tilting towards the denunciation of KOR-US FTA more. Accordingly, more people are expected to gather in the candlelight rally on 10th.

Based on this public feverish sentiment, national movement headquarter to stop KOR-US FTA decided to continue the candlelight rally everyday and announced that massive assembly targeting 100 thousand people would be held on 10th.

Meanwhile, clashes between citizens who tried to enter Gwanghwamun square and police who blocked them took place in many places. In due course, 9 citizens were taken away for investigation.

시민들 “끝까지 함께 하면 반드시 이깁니다”

한미 FTA 비준 반대 시위에 참석한 시민들의 표정은 아주 밝았다. 시민들 대다수가 “끝까지 함께하면 이길 것”이라며 “이명박 대통령이 사과하는 그때까지 함께 싸우자”고 서로에게 힘을 북돋워줬다.

시민들의 행진 맨 앞에 있었다는 20대 커플 김모(29)씨와 박모(27.여)씨는 데이트를 하다가 시민들의 행진에 합류했다. 남자친구 김모씨는 “시민들의 행진을 보고 집에 가려했지만 여자친구가 함께해야 한다고 말해 참석했다”며 “함께하니까 왠지 한나라당과 이명박 대통령을 이길 것 같다”고 말하며 멋쩍은 웃음을 지었다.

여자친구 박모씨는 “평소 이명박 대통령의 정책이 마음에 들지 않았다”라며 “데이트를 하다가 시민들을 보고 참을 수 없어 나왔다”고 말했다. 또 “이명박 대통령과 한나라당이 얼마남지 않은 것 같다. 행진하면서 버스안 시민들도 박수를 친다”며 “한나라당과 이명박 대통령의 운명은 얼마 남지 않은 것 같다”고 설명했다.

이어 그는 “이제 FTA와 관련돼 대통령이 항복해야할 때”라며 “그렇지 않으면 시민들은 더 많이 거리로 나올 것이다. 반드시 이긴다”라고 말했다.

대치동에서 자녀와 함께 집회에 참석한 주부 진모(42)씨는 “한나라당과 이명박 대통령을 반대하지는 않지만 FTA는 우리 딸의 미래를 위해 나서야 한다고 생각했다”라며 “그동안 몰랐는데 사람들과 함께 하니깐 용기가 생긴다. 희망이 보인다”고 말했다.

이어 “그동안 한나라당과 이명박 대통령 때문에 힘든 것이 이만저만이 아니다”라며 “진작에 더 나서서 문제점을 고치지 못했나라는 후회가 생긴다”고 토로했다.

아울러 그는 “얼마전 한진중공업도 시민들이 힘을 모아 이겼다고 들었다”면서 “이 시민들의 힘으로 FTA도 이길 수 있을 것이다. 이제 남녀노소 다 모여야 한다. 끝까지 질긴 놈이 이긴다”고 말했다.

인천에서 참가한 회사원 이모(45)씨는 “시민들의 관심이 죽어가고 있는 것 같아 안타까웠다”라며 “하지만 오늘 보니 내가 잘못 생각한 것 같다. 시민들의 분노는 더욱 커지는 것 같다”고 밝혔다.

이어 “더 많은 사람들이 끝까지 함께해야 한다. 다음주에는 이보다 열배 많은 사람들이 모여 이명박에 맞서자”라며 “촛불이 늘면 늘수록 이명박 대통령은 쫄게 될 것이다. 반드시 이긴다”고 강조했다.

촛불로 심판하자
In 3rd evening, participants in the candlelight rally to block KOR-US FTA at Cheonggye square are shouting slogans with candlelights on their hands. ⓒ Yang Ji-woong 양지웅

촛불의 온기
In 3rd evening, a participant in the candlelight rally to block KOR-US FTA at Cheonggye square is warming his hands with candlelights. ⓒ Yang Ji-woong 양지웅

한미 FTA 폐기하라
In 3rd evening, participants in the candlelight rally to block KOR-US FTA at Cheonggye square are shouting slogans with candlelights on their hands. ⓒ Yang Ji-woong 양지웅

3일 2011년 민중대회
In 3rd afternoon, participants in “2011 people’s rally” held at Seoul station square are staging a sit-in in a street near Jongro 1-ga. ⓒ Lee Seung-bin 이승빈

3일 2011년 민중대회
In 3rd afternoon, participants in “2011 people’s rally” held at Seoul station square are moving in the Cheonggye square direction from Jongro 1-ga. ⓒ Lee Seung-bin 이승빈

3일 2011년 민중대회
In 3rd afternoon, participants in “2011 people’s rally” held at Seoul station square are moving in the Cheonggye square direction from Jongro 1-ga. ⓒ Lee Seung-bin 이승빈

3일 2011년 민중대회
In 3rd afternoon, participants in “2011 people’s rally” held at Seoul station square are moving in the Cheonggye square direction from Jongro 1-ga. ⓒ Lee Seung-bin 이승빈

행진하는 시민들
In 3rd evening, participants in the rally to block KOR-US FTA are marching to Myung-dong from Jongro street, Seoul. ⓒ Yang Ji-woong 양지웅

3일 2011년 민중대회
In 3rd afternoon, participants in “2011 people’s rally” held at Seoul station square are staging a sit-in in a street near Jongro 1-ga. ⓒ Yang Ji-woong 양지웅

3일 2011년 민중대회
In 3rd afternoon, representatives of opposition parties are progressing to streets after holding a press conference at Gwanghwamun square. ⓒ Lee Seung-bin 이승빈

3일 2011년 민중대회
In 3rd afternoon, representatives of opposition parties are progressing to streets after holding a press conference at Gwanghwamun square. ⓒ Lee Seung-bin 이승빈

경찰 저지를 뚫고 도로로 진출하는 시민들
In 3rd afternoon, police are trying to stop citizens that participated in a rally to stop KOR-US FTA ratification from progressing to the street in front of Kyobo building, Gwanghwamun, Jongro-gu, Seoul. ⓒ Voice of People 민중의소리

경찰 저지를 뚫고 도로로 진출하는 시민들
In 3rd afternoon, police are trying to stop citizens that participated in a rally to stop KOR-US FTA ratification from progressing to the street in front of Kyobo building, Gwanghwamun, Jongro-gu, Seoul. ⓒ Voice of People 민중의소리

경찰 광화문 원천봉쇄
Police, mobilizing combat squads and draftees, are trying to stop citizens from moving into Gwanghwamun square by setting up 2 layers of vehicle wall around Gwanghwamun area in 3rd afternoon. Scuffles between citizens who want to move into Gwanghwamun square and police are taking place all over Gwanghwamun area. ⓒ Voice of People 민중의소리

광화문 집회 불허 규탄
Five opposition parties and national movement headquarter to block KOR-US FTA are holding a press conference at Gwanghwamun square blaming police who disapproved candlelight rally to denounce KOR-US FTA ratification. ⓒ Yang Ji-woong 양지웅

집회 불허 규탄한다
Five opposition parties and national movement headquarter to block KOR-US FTA are holding a press conference at Gwanghwamun square blaming police who disapproved candlelight rally to denounce KOR-US FTA ratification. ⓒ Yang Ji-woong 양지웅

지난 26일 경찰이 광화문광장을 봉쇄했다.
Police locked out the Gwanghwamun square on 26th last month. ⓒ Yang Ji-woong 양지웅

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