Millions of protesters brave SKorean winter freeze

Anti-president protest organizers expect more than 2 million people to join Saturday demonstrations across South Korea

Millions of protesters brave SKorean winter freeze

World Bulletin / News Desk

A sea of protesters stood face to face with police 200 meters from South Korea's presidential office Saturday evening, near enough for the country's leader to hear their cry: "Park Geun-hye, resign!"

It is the closest that authorities have ever permitted demonstrators to come to the Blue House.

By the end of the night, organizers expect 1.5 million citizens to have gathered in central Seoul where the roads lead toward Park's base -- despite snowfall and freezing temperatures through much of the day.

With hundreds of thousands more protesters taking a stand in cities nationwide, this is the biggest of the weekend protests that began five Saturdays ago due to a corruption scandal that continues to unfold.

Having backtracked on a promise to cooperate with state prosecutors last Sunday, Park's approval rating fell to as low as four percent this week -- lawmakers are also likely to vote in favor of an impeachment motion early next month.

But for members of the public, there is no time like the present.

The march to the Blue House began at 4 p.m. (0700GMT), bringing together a diverse cross-section of society including politicians and professionals, university students and professors, parents and their children -- even farmers forced by police to leave their tractors at the city's outskirts after journeys that took several days in some cases.

A sympathetic Seoul Metropolitan Government -- led by a mayor affiliated with the main opposition Democratic Party -- has done what it can to extend public transport operations and beef up amenities such as portable toilets.

No South Korean has seemingly been unaffected by the claim that their leader allowed a private confidante, among others, to abuse their connections to the Blue House -- not to mention the suspicions that Park herself allegedly coerced conglomerates into making donations and gave away state secrets.

The atmosphere over the five weekends of demonstrations so far has been overwhelmingly festive, thanks in part to the police refraining from the deadly water cannon tactics they employed last year.

But there must also be a realization that the president has ignored the demand at the heart of these peaceful candlelight vigils.

Some 25,000 police officers have been deployed in Seoul alone, ready if necessary for a more forceful crowd this time.

Last Mod: 26 Kasım 2016, 13:00
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