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Politicians's different approaches to rallies in Gwanghwamun

Politicians's different approaches to rallies in Gwanghwamun

Posted March. 02, 2017 07:12,   

Updated March. 02, 2017 07:21


Ruling and opposition party politicians were fully mobilized to join the protests in the Gwanghwamun area in downtown Seoul on Wednesday in accordance with their political interest.

Moon Jae-in, the front-runner in the presidential race and former chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party, showed up at an event at the Seodaemun Prison History Hall marking the 98th Independence Movement Day, saying that the candlelight rallies calling for President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment over a bribery and influence-peddling scandal were the people’s exercise of their right of resistance. Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung, also a member of the Democratic Party, wrote in a posting on his Facebook page, “The candlelight revolution is a second March 1 Independence Movement.” Moon, Lee and other Democratic Party leaders joined the candlelight rally in Gwanghwamun in the afternoon.

South Chungcheong Gov. Ahn Hee-jung said in his speech to a ceremony marking the March 1 Independence Movement, that the spirit of the independence movement was “sublimated into the glorious candlelight revolution.” However, he did not join the Gwanghwamun rally to attend a meeting on measures to contain the spreading avian influenza apparently in consideration of the moderate sentiment in the Chungcheong area. He also mentioned former leaders of Kim Gu, Rhee Syng-man, Kim Dae-jung, and Roh Moo-hyun as part of Korea’s “proud history,” a message that could be interpreted as intended for both the conservatives and the progressives.

Ahn Chul-soo, former chairman of the minor opposition People’s Party who has recently taken a step toward the right, did not show up in Gwanghwamun, either. He told reporters on Wednesday that it was “not right” to use the national flag as a symbol of a divided nation.

Lawmakers and presidential hopefuls of the ruling Liberty Korea Party showed up at a pro-Park rally in the Gwanghwamun area, opposing the president’s impeachment. A key party official argued that the party’s Park loyalists “regained confidence” as the Constitutional Court’s ruling on her impeachment drew near and participants in the pro-Park rallies had increased. The party’s leadership reportedly plans to take a wait-and-see attitude for the time being in consideration of the need to drum up conservative supports.

Yoo Seung-min, a presidential contender of the Righteous Party, participated in a March 1 ceremony in Daegu, President Park’s political home turf, to garner support. His party blamed rival parties that participated in the rallies, urging them to stop stimulating the crowds.

Jin-Woo Shin niceshin@donga.com · Chan-Wuk Song song@donga.com