A growing corruption scandal over a new justice minister is bringing South Koreans from across the political spectrum out into the streets in numbers rarely seen since candlelight protests helped bring down former South Korean president Park Geun-hye in 2017.
Tens of thousands of protesters staged demonstrations during recent holidays, including in downtown Seoul on Wednesday, and more gatherings were planned for yesterday.
Critics of South Korean President Moon Jae-in routinely stage demonstrations in downtown Seoul, but corruption allegations against South Korean Minister of Justice Cho Kuk’s family have galvanized conservative groups after the political disaster of Park’s impeachment over a bribery scandal.
However, the latest corruption scandal has also led to major demonstrations from the other end of the political spectrum, many of whom participated in the 2016-2017 candlelight protests against Park.
They see the investigation into Cho as politically motivated and are calling on the Moon administration to follow through with promised reforms.
The reforms include more oversight of prosecutors’ investigations, barring overly prolonged or late interrogations and limiting investigations from spilling over into other probes, according to the Ministry of Justice.
“I’d never been to a protest before last Thursday,” 34-year-old Lee Soo-min, a mother of one from eastern Seoul, told reporters while attending an opposition rally on Wednesday.
“But I got so angry over what a hypocrite Cho is,” she said while holding a sign calling for Cho to resign. “Moon is not listening to anyone except his supporters.”
The scandal has broadened into a wider political clash, said Shin Jin-wook, a professor at Chung-Ang University in Seoul.
“The Minister Cho and prosecution reform issue became a catalyst for people to take collective action, because it overlapped with older issues, such as differing views on national security, the economy and politics,” Shin said.
“But because of the diverse views even within each camp, it’s still unclear what direction national opinion will take going forward,” he said.
Moon already faces public discontent over a sluggish economy and stalled diplomacy with North Korea, and the Cho scandal has helped keep his approval numbers near historic lows.
His approval rating stood at 43 percent, according to a Gallup Korea survey conducted on Tuesday and Thursday.
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
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
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