South Korean police yesterday detained 10 activists protesting against a government ban on rallies at a new US$36 million showpiece plaza in the capital.
Gwanghwamun Plaza, featuring new national monuments, pedestrian-friendly boulevards and fountains, opened on Saturday along Seoul’s main avenue Sejongno and has attracted more than 370,000 visitors since then.
The conservative government, which was rocked by months of street protests last summer, has said it will only allow “orderly cultural events” at the landmark that took 15 months to complete.
Dozens of opposition party legislators and members of left-leaning civic groups gathered at the plaza yesterday, calling the ban a blow to civil liberties.
Police detained 10 of them, saying they were staging an illegal rally rather than a news conference as they claimed.
“They are being investigated for holding an illegal rally at a place where unauthorized demonstrations and gatherings are banned,” a Seoul police spokesman said.
The protesters, quoted by Yonhap news agency, said the plaza had not been properly returned to its rightful owners, the public.
“With the ban on legal demonstrations and rallies, the plaza is nothing but a garden belonging to the Seoul Metropolitan Government,” they said.
Last summer’s mass demonstrations were sparked by a decision to resume US beef imports after a suspension because of fears of mad cow disease. Rallies later took on an anti-government tone and sometimes ended in clashes with hundreds of riot police.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
LIFELONG LOSS: Jiro Hamasumi, who was not quite born when an atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, lost his father and other relatives, but said he thinks about his father daily As Japan marks 75 years since the devastating attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the last generation of nuclear bomb survivors is working to ensure their message lives on after them. The “hibakusha” — literally “person affected by the bomb” — have for decades been a powerful voice calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. There are an estimated 136,700 left, many of whom were infants or soon to be born at the time of the attacks. The average age of a survivor now is a little over 83, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, lending an urgency as they share their testimonies