SEOUL, July 3 (Reuters) – Thousands of South Korean workers staged a rally in downtown Seoul to demand better conditions, video footage showed on Saturday, defying a government ban and ignoring warnings that their manifestation could trigger a new wave of coronavirus.
As South Korea battles a spike in infections fueled by the highly infectious Delta variant, authorities have denied permission to protest, with Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum urging leaders of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions to l ‘to cancel.
Protesters wearing masks blocked some of the main streets in the central Jongno district, holding up signs with slogans such as “Stop restructuring!” and “Let’s go! General strike ! Yonhap news agency video showed.
The protest, which the union said drew up to 8,000 participants, supported demands for wage increases and measures to prevent accidents.
But plans for the rally had raised concerns about a repeat of last summer’s events, after a massive rally at a church sparked a second wave of infections nationwide.
However, the union continued Saturday’s rally after a last-minute change of venue from the Yeouido financial center, where police had erected a barricade of buses and checkpoints to deter protesters.
The union said it was able to ensure a safe protest
based on strict COVID-19 guidelines, and urged respect for his right to freedom of assembly.
About 80% of the locally transmitted cases in South Korea continue to originate from the Seoul metropolitan area, which is home to more than half of the country’s 52 million people. Daily infections peaked in nearly six months on Thursday. Read more
The 794 cases reported by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) on Friday were slightly lower than the previous day’s figure.
“Organizing a large protest in the greater Seoul area is an extremely dangerous decision that would only fuel the flames of COVID-19,” Kim said on Friday, warning that authorities would take all necessary measures to block the protest.
Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Jane Wardell and Clarence Fernandez
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