Conservatives take to the streets, shake Seoul government

Scandal-plagued South Korean Justice Minister Cho Kuk resigned on Oct. 14 as the opposition turned up the heat on the leftist Moon Jae-In administration, charging a dual system of justice and discrimination against North Korean defectors.

On Oct. 9, thousands of protesters jammed the streets near City Hall in Seoul, calling on Moon to resign and Cho to be jailed.

An aerial view of the protests calling for Moon Jae-in to resign and for Cho Kuk to be sent to jail. / Twitter

“Additionally, there have been 2,000 to 3,000 people continuously protesting outside the Blue House” since Oct. 3, according to a report by Dr. Tara O, director at East Asia Research Center and a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force (Ret.). “They have been sleeping outside on the hard ground and have been present through rain and shine. They said they’re out there to defend freedom and South Korea’s liberal democracy for future generations.”

Tara O on Oct. 14 tweeted what she described as a new street poll conducted in the Dongdaemun District of Seoul on approval for President Moon.

The poll showed 24.32 percent approved on Moon’s performance while 75.68 percent disapproved. “Yet Realmeter keeps reporting somewhere in the 40 percent” approval range for Moon, Tara O noted.

Meanwhile, during the protest in Seoul on Oct. 9, police arrested North Korean defector Hu Kwang-Il, the leader of the Committee of the Democratization of North Korea (CDNK), the East Asia Research Center reported.

Hu was arrested on the charge of “interference with a government official in the execution of official duties.” Authorities, the report said, claimed Hu led a violent protest by North Korean defectors at a rally in front of the Blue House (the presidential residence) to violence. Hu denies any charges of violence as “there were no physical conflicts with the police.”

Hu said he led the demonstration, in part, to raise awareness of a North Korean defector and her 7-year-old son who were recently found dead in South Korea.

“This unacceptable death brought all North Korean defectors in South Korea together,” Hu said. “We had no physical conflict with the police. Some people crossed the police line during the rally and were dragged out by the police.”

Hu added: “Our rally was a cry out against Moon and his government that led the mother and her son to starve to death! This is a horrific death. The defector mother had even survived the mass starvation of North Korea in the late 1990s when more than 3.5 million people died from starvation. Such dreadful death should never have happened here!”

Cho stepped down just hours after holding a press conference in which he announced reforms to the prosecution.

“I felt apologetic to the people regarding the ongoing probes of my family but put in my best each day as justice minister to reform the prosecution. But now my role has come to an end,” he said.

“Now I will put everything down and take care of my family, who are going through the toughest and most painful time of their lives,” Cho said.

Cho’s family, including his wife, daughter and son, have been questioned by the prosecution several times regarding suspicions over the family’s private equity investment and college admission.

A court procedure involving Cho’s wife, a university professor surnamed Chung, is scheduled to start on Oct. 18.

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