Thousands of Small Businesses Hold Drive-in Protest

      September 10, 2021 13:09

      Hundreds of cars lined up on bridges across the Han River to Yeouido in Seoul on Wednesday night with their headlights on in a protest by small-business owners against the never-ending lockdown.

      The organizers claimed that 5,000 cars took part and were driven by store and restaurant owners from across the country.

      Similar car protests were held in Seoul, Busan and South Gyeongsang Province in July and August, and on Thursday they took place simultaneously in Seoul, Daejeon, Ulsan, Gwangju, Jeonju and Chuncheon.

      Jung Ki-tae (41), who runs a restaurant in Seoul, said, "I haven't been allowed to open my restaurant at night, so sales dropped to one-fifth and I had to lay off five staff and look after the business with my mother. I came to protest because I'm standing on the edge of the cliff."

      Protesters take part in a drive-in rally against lockdown in Seoul on Thursday. /Newsis

      The cars converged on Yeouido, but police formed a blockade and inspected each vehicle, and there were some clashes in the process. Eventually the protesters decided to change the location of their rally and gathered along the banks of the Han River near the National Assembly.

      One organizer of the protest said, "Police used excessive force to crack down on the protest where store and restaurant owners wanted to complain about their livelihood being ruined."

      The organizers said the businesses had to shoulder more than W66 trillion in debt over the past year-and-a-half to stay afloat and 453,000 small businesses have closed down. "The protest is our last scream," they said.

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