EDITOR'S CHOICE | 27.11.2015

South Korea vows crackdown ahead of anti-government rally

PressTV - The South Korean government has vowed to crack down on protests ahead of a planned rally in the capital, Seoul.

Workers, farmers, teachers and social activists plan to take to the streets on December 5 to protest the government’s labor reforms and its plans to lift agricultural protection and impose its own history textbooks on schools.

In a nationally-televised address on Friday, Justice Minister Kim Hyun-woong vowed zero tolerance, saying the government would “eradicate” any public disorder and make violators “pay the price.”

Kim had issued a similar warning before a huge anti-government rally in Seoul earlier this month, which attracted around 60,000 people. The protest saw numerous clashes between protestors and police, prompting President Park Geun-hye to urge strong measures against future demonstrations.

Activists are undeterred. They say the labor reforms benefit only the country’s huge family-controlled conglomerates and make it easier to fire workers. Critics are also angry about the plan to introduce government-written history textbooks, denouncing it as an attempt to whitewash the brutal dictatorships in the 1980s.

The developments come ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for next April.

Among the activist groups and individuals involved in the acts of protest is Han Sang-gyun, the president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). He has been taking refuge inside a major Buddhist temple in Seoul for the past two weeks, with the government urging him to surrender and warning that anyone helping him escape would be arrested.