December 09, 2016 09:19
Protesters braved driving rain in front of the National Assembly in Yeouido on Thursday evening, a day before lawmakers vote on a bill to impeach President Park Geun-hye.
Many of the protesters were younger office workers from the nearby financial district who had come out after work in their suits and carrying backpacks or briefcases. One 31-year-old who works for a brokerage said, "I wanted to support the impeachment motion and came here along with two of my colleagues. I'm going to come here after work every day until Park is impeached."
Organizers estimated around 7,000 demonstrators had gathered in front of the National Assembly by 8:30 p.m.
Organizers asked the National Assembly open its premises to the public and install screens outdoors to broadcast the vote live. But National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun said representatives of the major parties agreed not to give the public access to the premises because of the right of lawmakers to vote according to their conscience "should not be interfered with."
Police barricaded the building with buses from 8 p.m. to keep the demonstrators out. Police told protesters not to come within a 100-m radius, but demonstrators formed a human chain around the main gate of the National Assembly shouting "you are surrounded!" and "impeach the president!"
The protest lasted until around 10:30 p.m. Organizers said demonstrators will gather again at 1:30 p.m. on Friday when lawmakers vote on the bill.
Some die-hard Park supporters also gathered in Yeouido on Thursday. Around 60 members of hardline conservative groups held a press conference in front of the National Assembly in the afternoon to voice their opposition to the impeachment motion.
They claimed that radical leftwing forces were inciting the public and pressuring even the ruling Saenuri to oust Park. The supporters said they will launch a drive to get 1 million people to join the Saenuri Party and reform it.
Around 200 members of a group supporting Park rallied in front of Saenuri headquarters seeking to stop the impeachment process.
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