South Korea government calls for calm ahead of anti-Park mass rally


The South Korean government has urged calm and respect for law during a mass rally planned to take place against President Park Geun-hye on Saturday.

“The government is concerned that the protest could lead to illegal collective action or violence,” Deputy Prime Minister Lee Joon-sik told reporters on Friday.

“We hope the public will cooperate so that the demonstration will be legal and peaceful,” Lee added.

Police have said they are bracing for around 170,000 protesters to take part in the Saturday rally, which is planned in the capital, Seoul. Organizers, however, have said they expect up to 500,000 people to participate.

The rally will come as part of demonstrations calling on Park to step down over a scandal involving one of her close friends.

The Saturday protest is being organized by an umbrella trade union, which has appealed to workers, farmers, the urban poor, students, and company employees to join the action.

Two previous anti-Park rallies were mostly peaceful, with a large number of families turning up at them.

The scandal engulfing the South Korean government is focused on her long-time confidante, Choi Soon-sil, who is currently under arrest on charges of fraud and abuse of power.

Prosecutors are investigating allegations that Choi, 60, leveraged her personal relationship with Park to coerce donations from large companies like Samsung to non-profit foundations that she set up and used for personal gain.

She is also accused of interfering in government affairs, including in the nomination of senior officials, despite holding no official position.

Meanwhile, Chu Mi-ae, the head of the main opposition Democratic Party, has said that Park should not hold any state posts.

“A president who is a source for embarrassment for the people must stay away from state affairs,” Chu said Friday at a meeting of the party’s top officials.

Park said last Friday that the scandal was all her fault and apologized to the nation for causing the disappointment and distress. But there have been no indications that the South Korean president may proceed to step down.


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