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Police ban two Sunday rallies by conservative group

Choi In-sik, secretary general of a conservative civic group, speaks to reporters at the Jongno Police Station in Seoul on Tuesday before submitting its plans to hold outdoor rallies. (Yonhap)
Choi In-sik, secretary general of a conservative civic group, speaks to reporters at the Jongno Police Station in Seoul on Tuesday before submitting its plans to hold outdoor rallies. (Yonhap)
The police decided not to permit two outdoor rallies planned by a conservative group for Sunday and Oct. 25 due to concerns that the events could cause another resurgence of the coronavirus.

At 9 p.m. Wednesday, the Seoul Jongno Police Station notified the group, which also organized one of the rallies held on Aug. 15 in central Seoul’s Gwanghwamun at which hundreds were infected with the virus, of its decision to refuse permission for both of the events.

The group, known for its anti-government views, had reported its plan to hold gatherings of up to 1,000 people in the form of worship services in a 400-meter section near the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in Gwanghwamun, occupying three motor lanes and a pedestrian path.

It planned to set up 1,000 chairs two meters apart for the two Sunday services.

The police said the decision came in consideration of the Seoul city government’s worries that such large gatherings could cause another uptick in the number of virus cases.

The Seoul city government earlier this week eased its restrictions on outdoor rallies as South Korea adjusted its social distancing scheme to its lowest level. The new guidance now allows rallies of fewer than 100 people.

Rallies of 10 or more people had been banned since late August, after the Aug. 15 rallies, held to coincide with Liberation Day. The rallies on Aug. 15 were blamed for causing more than 600 new infections among participants and their contacts.

But the city government has maintained the ban on rallies in some central, populated regions including the Gwanghwamun area.

The conservative group had warned Tuesday that it will respond with administrative lawsuits and other legal proceedings if authorities banned its worship services.

By Ko Jun-tae (ko.juntae@heraldcorp.com)
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