Free Press International / October 4, 2019
The Washingon dramas were half a world away for an estimated 3 million generally conservative protesters in Seoul near City Hall on Oct. 3.
Despite several rival rallies the demonstrators, some waving Korean and American flags, were unified in calling for the ouster of South Korean President Moon Jae-In and the resignation of scandal-plagued Justice Minister Cho Kuk. Both men and their political allies have records of socialist leanings and ideological alignments with China and North Kora.
Unlike past demonstrations against the current government, the Oct. 3 event was covered by South Korea’s mainstream media.
Religious leaders and politicians gave speeches on the failing economy and what they said was the Moon administration’s “soft” response to North Korea’s recent missile tests, the Korea Times reported.
The protesters chanted slogans including “Arrest Cho Kuk” and “Moon Jae-In out.”
“The Moon administration is the worst, the most incompetent and the most immoral administration since the nation was founded,” main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) floor leader Na Kyung-Won said.
The LKP said up to 3 million people were at the protest rally.
LKP Chairman Hwang Kyo-Ahn alleged corruption allegations involving Cho keep multiplying one after another. “How can Moon appoint such a person as justice minister?” Hwang asked the crowd of protesters. “Moon is ruining the country just to protect Cho.”
According to a report by the Korea Times, the protest was sparked partly by a rally in support of Cho held in southern Seoul on Sept. 28.
Organizers for the Oct. 3 demonstration said the rally supporting Cho “prompted conservatives to display their full strength in numbers,” the Korea Times report said. “Subway stations and buses disgorged wave after wave of people, mostly in their 60s or above, into the streets. Around 3 p.m.”
“This administration doesn’t click with our generation in terms of the national interest,” said Im Jin-Su, a 76-year-old Seoul resident. “We want peace and happiness for the country. Cho Kuk has a lot of faults and he was a left-wing activist. No country led by a leftist has ever come to any good.”
The university admissions scandal surrounding Cho’s children “turned the public against the new justice minister, a liberal figure chosen by President Moon to fulfill his election pledge to reform the prosecution, which has long been accused of wielding too much power for political ends,” the Korea Times report said.
“Cho is lying about his children’s university admissions. He says his wife did the things, but that is no excuse,” Yu Sun-Ok, a 61-year-old from Daejeon, was quoted as saying by Yonhap News. “Cho should be judged by the law for lying, and Moon should also be judged for selecting Cho.”
The Korea Times added: “Pressured by presidential orders, Prosecutor-General Yoon Seok-Youl announced Tuesday the closing down of most special investigation units that had been set up to deal with high-profile corruption and political cases. This was one of the reforms proposed by the President.”