Updated April. 08, 2014 02:45
Police will form this month special police teams that will measure and control the noise level in the event of protest rallies and demonstration in the Seoul region, including Seoul Plaza in front of Seoul City Hall, and Cheonggye Plaza.
According to the police on Monday, noise management teams will be set up under five mobile squads and all police stations under the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency in mid-April. The noise management teams will precisely measure the level of noise generated by protest rallies and demonstrators. The teams will take phased countermeasures, including switching-off of megaphones and speakers, when demonstrators violate the legally permitted noise levels. In order to ensure that rally organizers manage noise voluntarily, the teams will carry out mission while wearing special uniforms (vest, etc) that differentiate them from other police forces in charge of security and transportation.
The current standards of noise levels at protest rallies are 80 decibels or lower during daytime and 70 decibels or lower at night in other districts (plaza, commercial districts), and 65 decibels or lower during daytime and 60 decibels or lower at night in residential areas and schools. According to the revision bill to the Executive Ordinance of the Assembly and Protest Act, when noise levels at protest sites exceed the level, police will deliver to protest organizers order to maintain noise under the permissible level. If the organizers fail to cooperate, police will issue "order to halt use" of megaphones as next phase of action. If the organizers continue to violate the permissible noise level, police will forfeit and keep with them megaphones and other equipment for a limited time.
If protest organizers violate all police orders, they could face imprisonment of up to six months, fine of up to 500,000 won (474 U.S. dollars), detention, or administrative fines. Thus far, the outdated assembly culture from the past, namely organizers should use loud voice to make case when holding a protest rally no matter what, and violating the noise level is okay if you pay fines, has made effectively invalid the noise standards and punishment thereof.
However, such mood is gradually changing this year. Police is emphasizing response in line with principle to occupation of roads and damage from noise. During a rally of the national construction workers union held at a park in Jamwon-dong in Seouls Seocho district on March 19, the Seocho Police Station shut off power supply for megaphones for 10 minutes when noise above the permissible level was created.