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One million protesters storm Seoul’s streets, demanding President Park’s resignation

It was a never-ending stream of people. As of 7:30 p.m., Saturday, around 1 million people gathered at Gwanghwamun, central Seoul, calling for President Park Geun-hye to step down, according to the rally's organizers.

People from all walks of life chanted, "Park should step down," in a huge demonstration against the President who is under pressure over the influence-meddling scandal involving her confidant Choi Soon-sil. The police estimated 220,000 citizens were there.

It was the largest rally of the nation in 30 years, bigger than the 2008 protest rally against former President Lee Myung-bak's position to import American beef in spite of the mad cow scare.

From 2 p.m. Seoul Plaza was already full with citizens including union workers, students, farmers among others. After the demonstration began there, beginning at 4 p.m., people spread to other areas in central Seoul including Jongno, Euljiro, Myeong-dong, Seodaemun and Sungnyemun. Around 7 p.m. people walked along various routes heading toward the same destination: Cheong Wa Dae, the presidential office.

As in the two previous peaceful rallies, people came with their families, in couples and with groups of their friends. As motorized traffic around City Hall became paralyzed from all the people gathered there, many walked from Euljiro and Gyeongbokgung stations. Medical booths were set up for any possible accidents, thanks to doctors and nurses who volunteered to staff them.

"I brought my children out here to show them what is right," said Lee Dong-woo, 42, an office worker from Seoul, who took part in the march with his wife and two children, aged seven and five. "I explained the situation to my children and they said they would write a poster demanding the president apologize for her wrongdoing."

A staff member of a university, Yoo Yong-sik, 46, came to the rally with his daughter, Yoo Hyo-jin, 16, who was carrying a picket sign she had made. "I came here after leaving a private academy class early," she said. "I think the nation's fate is way more important than my studies at this time."

High school students who are preparing for the college scholastic ability test (CSAT) were no exception. "Although the CSAT is next week, we had to come here to demand that the President step down," said Yun Hui-yeong, 18, from Gunpo, Gyeonggi Province. "I came here without telling my parents."

It was not simply the influence-meddling scandal, however, that attracted all of the people. Labor unions came to Seoul by bus from the provinces to make their voices heard against the government's labor policies.

"We feel very unstable about the performance-based salary system, as there are no objective standards by which to calculate a worker's performance," said a worker surnamed Kim, 29, from Korea Gas Corporation's Daegu branch. They arrived here this afternoon and will stay until the end of the march.

For students majoring history, the government-authored textbooks are a lingering problem. "This picket sign is what I used last year when Park declared the policy," said Choe Hong-byung, 28, who is studying in master's course at a university concentrating in Korean history. "Many state decisions were made under the influence of Choi Soon-sil, maybe the textbook policy is one of them."

For parents, the unfair college entrance for Choi's daughter Chung Yoo-ra was another reason to join the rally.

"I hope our society will be equal for everyone," said Lee Hyo-jeong, 33, from Suwon. Holding her three-year-old child, she said her life has deteriorated under the Park administration. "I can feel that our society is becoming more polarized, while welfare policies falter."

Foreigners studying in Korea joined the march as it moved toward Cheong Wa Dae. "I read some articles in the local press and came to see what is going on here," said Jasmijn Broerze, 22, an exchange student from the Netherlands studying at Seoul National University (SNU). "We have protests in the Netherlands but nothing as massive as this." Broerze came with fellow exchange students from Germany and Spain.

Farmers walked from City Hall to Gwanghwamun bearing a bier on their shoulders. Instead of chanting, they wailed with the traditional melody for a Korean funeral. "This means Park's political death," said a farmer, Choi Yong-cheol, 65, from Daejeon.

"The price of rice is 20 percent of the price for dog food. The late farmer Baek Nam-ki died while calling for Park to keep her promise to help agriculture. His death feels like my business." According to Statistics Korea, the nation's rice price has dropped to a 21-year low this year.

Next to the bier, musicians and popular comedians were performing on stage. People greeted legendary rock band Crying Nut with acclamation.

"It feels like a festival," said Jeon In-eui, 27, who participated in the protest with his friend Ji Moon-soo, 27. When the band sang their masterpiece "Run the Horse" people in the crowd jumped around as if they were enjoying a concert. "I came here last week, and I'm happy to do my share to raise awareness about the protest by peaceful rallies," Ji said.

While around 100,000 from the provinces arrived in the nation's capital, hundreds of thousands protesters poured out into streets in main cities all over the nation; 35,000 in Busan, 10,000 in Gwangju, 4,000 in Daegu and 5,000 in Jeju Island, the organizers said.


OP Note: I am so proud of my people right now. I was there for about four hours, and it was an experience that took my breath away. Parents explaining to their kids how they are becoming a part of history, students in their school uniforms shouting for justice, a feeling of camaraderie that filled the air. It was truly an amazing moment, and I am so proud to have been part of it. Apparently, someone was at a park behind Cheongwadae (The Blue House/Presidential residence) and they could hear the chants from there, so the president definitely heard us. Also, here's a fun video of everyone doing the wave; I thought it was a cool video showing just how many people were there.

Source: ONTD_Political

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