The Korea Herald


Police probe organizers of massive rally in Seoul

Seoul city to report umbrella labor union to police for violation of infectious diseases prevention

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : July 4, 2021 - 12:31

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On Saturday, members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions hold a rally in Seoul to demand a complete revision of the labor law. (Yonhap) On Saturday, members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions hold a rally in Seoul to demand a complete revision of the labor law. (Yonhap)
Police have set up a special team to investigate the organizers of Saturday’s rally held by the umbrella labor union, Korean Confederation of Trade Unions.

Police said they plan to seek charges against organizers and key participants of the KCTU on suspicion of holding illegal rallies and marches, traffic obstruction and violation of the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government also plans to file a criminal complaint against the KCTU for violating the same disease control act. Seoul City, which currently bans gatherings of more than 10 people, has notified the union five times to refrain from assemblies over the last month.

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions held a rally in downtown Seoul on Saturday, despite the government’s call for self-restraint due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

An estimated 8,000 union members gathered at around 1:50 p.m. near Jongno 3-ga in central Seoul to march to Jongno 2-ga, a few hundred meters away. Initially, the organizers said they would hold a rally in Yeouido, where the National Assembly is located. But the venue was changed after police blocked access to roads and subway stations around Yeouido earlier in the day.

During the protest, the union members demanded the implementation of measures that eradicate serious workplace disasters, the elimination of non-regular workers and an increase to the minimum wage.

Yang Kyung-soo, chairman of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, said, “We gathered here to protect the survival, stability and employment of workers. If the government had kept its promise, such as converting non-regular workers to regular workers, we would not have been necessary to come here.”

He also announced plans for a general strike in November, declaring that he would “strongly prepare for a general strike in the second half of the year.”

Union members disbanded at around 3:45 p.m.

In the process, there was a clash between some police and a member of the union, who was arrested on charges of assaulting a police officer. The protest also caused heavy traffic congestion in Yeouido and Jongno, and subway trains did not stop at Jongno 3-ga Station on the day.

On Friday, a day before the protest, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum and Jung Eun-kyeong, commissioner of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, visited the office of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions to ask for restraint but were unable to enter the building.

By Shin Ji-hye (