Protesters to Clamor at the Gates of Cheong Wa Dae

  • By Joo Hyung-sik

    November 24, 2016 11:10

    Organizers expect candlelight protests in Seoul demanding the ouster of President Park Geun-hye over a massive corruption scandal to swell to 1.5 million people this Saturday.

    At a press conference in central Seoul on Wednesday, organizers put the nationwide figure at 2 million after an estimated 1 million took part last Saturday. Police are bracing for a rise in the numbers.

    Even high-school students in the complacently wealthy Samseong-dong area of southern Seoul issued a statement criticizing the government and seeking the ouster of the president.

    Supported by 70 percent of the student body, the statement spoke of youngsters' "despair and rage" at the alleged academic favors lavished on the daughter of Park's crony Choi Soon-sil, who is at the center of the scandal.

    A group of professors from the establishment Seoul National University also plan to take part in this weekend's demonstration.

    Protesters are blocked by police buses on their march to Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul last Saturday. /Yonhap

    Organizers have extended both the duration and route of this weekend's protest march. While last Saturday's protests ended around midnight, this week's are scheduled to last all night. Organizers have also aim to march closer to Cheong Wa Dae than before aiming to increase psychological pressure on Park to resign.

    Last week they were cut off 900 m from the presidential office amid security fears, but this week they are pushing for barriers to be set up no further than 200 m away. Organizers said the move aims to "let Park hear the angry voices of the public" for her refusal to step down.

    Park has dug in her heels and now seems determined to cling to her post and the legal immunity it ensures until she is impeached, which is likely to swell numbers.

    Police are getting worried. "Even though the demonstrations have been peaceful so far, there is the chance of hardliners inciting protesters to storm the presidential office once they march to its gates," a police spokesman said. "We would have trouble controlling such a huge crowd."

    Another headache for police is ensuring safety as huge throngs of demonstrators converge in downtown Seoul as the mercury dips below zero on Saturday.

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