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Far-right party again puts up protest tents in central Seoul

A far-right minor party set up tents near a square in central Seoul on Friday as it pushes to erect more tents at the plaza despite the city government's warning against what it called an illegal protest.

The Our Republican Party pitched four protest tents in front of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts near Gwanghwamun Square to press for a special probe into the deaths of five conservative protesters in 2017.

There were no clashes with the police or the city government in the process of setting up the tents.

Cho Won-jin (Yonhap)
Cho Won-jin (Yonhap)

The party said it plans to establish tents in the square as well. Seoul's Jongno Ward Office, where the square is located, said it will respond according to due procedures.

Earlier in the day, Rep. Cho Won-jin, co-head of the party, told a radio talk show that the party would put up protest tents at Gwanghwamun Square and resume camping out.

The party, consisting of loyalists to ousted former President Park Geun-hye, began the sit-in at Gwanghwamun Square on May 10 and moved the tents to a nearby site last Friday ahead of US President Donald Trump's visit to Seoul.

"We will return the tents from Cheonggye Plaza to Gwanghwamun Square this weekend," Cho said. "If Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon wants to prevent us from putting up the tents, he will have to bring 5,000 flowerpots there."

The city government deemed their protest illegal and placed 80 large potted trees at the place after the party temporarily removed the tents.

He defended the party's protest as a legitimate action "to appeal to the public" to find out the truth behind the deaths of five participants in street protests against Park's impeachment in 2017. The party has accused Seoul Mayor Park of neglecting his duty to protect citizens.

Cho criticized Seoul city's move to crack down on their protest, saying many liberal civic groups and political parties have staged camping protests in central areas in Seoul.

The party was established in July 2017 after ex-President Park was ousted from office in March over a corruption scandal.

Gwanghwamun Square was the main place of the candlelight protests against her from late 2016.