Violent pro-Park protesters face crackdown

By Lee Kyung-min

Police said Tuesday they are investigating 16 individuals suspected of committing 21 violent crimes during rallies near Cheong Wa Dae after the Constitutional Court removed President Park Geun-hye from office.

National Police Agency Commissioner General Lee Chul-sung said Monday those engaged in crime in the protests will be subject to punishment.

The police said a considerable number of Park supporters became angry and violent after Friday’s ruling.

A man surnamed Jung, 65, hijacked a police bus and drove it into another police bus being used as a barricade at the protest site. A loudspeaker on top of the parked bus fell off and hit a man, surnamed Kim, 72, who suffered from a fractured skull and ribs and later died.

Jung was put behind bars and faces charges of manslaughter, obstructing police and destroying public property.

Another pro-Park rally participant was detained for assaulting two journalists in a restaurant in Jongno near the protest site.

Four Park Geun-hye supporters were detained for attempting to set fire to a gas station in Jung-gu, central Seoul, Saturday. Police sought an arrest warrant for one of them.

One online post by the owner of a restaurant near the protest site accused supporters of engaging in vulgar behavior.

The owner said they stole tissue from the restroom, cut in line and sat anywhere they wanted falsely claiming they had made reservations.

Most of them used vulgar language in loud voices and tried to pick fights with restaurant employees and other customers. They smoked despite no smoking signs and employees’ requests not to do so and drank bottles of alcohol they brought in from outside.

Numerous instances of violent clashes among Park supporters were reported near the private residence of the former president in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul, where she returned after leaving Cheong Wa Dae late Sunday.

According to police, officers dispatched there stopped numerous incidents which could have escalated into physical fights among people in their 50s and 60s.

The fights usually began, it added, when one person expressed frustration against a certain behavior or remark they didn’t approve of by labeling the other “communist.”

The police agency is also investigating “fake news,” which includes a story claiming more than 80 percent of Koreans support the overturning of Park’s impeachment.

Park supporters said they would hold another massive rally Saturday.

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