A host of street rallies were scheduled to be held in downtown Seoul late Saturday in protest of the government's poor handling of the sinking of a ferry off South Korea's southwest coast one month ago.
A group of about 500 civic groups, including the Korean Federation of Trade Unions and People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, planned to hold a joint rally around Cheonggye Plaza, downtown Seoul, starting Saturday evening in memory of the more than 300 people killed in the deadly sinking of the ferry Sewol last month.
The government has come under severe public criticism for its botched initial rescue attempts over the 6,825-ton ferry Sewol, which capsized and sank off the southwestern island of Jindo on April 16. Nineteen people still remain missing from one of the country's worst maritime disasters.
After holding the rally, protesters will have a street march to Seoul Plaza, located in front of the Seoul City Hall, to visit the memorial altar set up there in commemoration of the ferry victims.
As many as 30,000 people, including some families of the ferry victims, are expected to join what would become the biggest street demonstration over the ferry sinking.
The police plan to deploy 10,000 riot policemen to the rally site.
Ahead of it, a group of some 7,500 civic group members, including those from the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union, were to hold a rally in the early afternoon over the ferry accident near Seoul Station.
Another group of 2,500 people from right-leaning civic groups were also scheduled to hold a separate evening rally in downtown Seoul to call on fellow protestors to stop using the maritime disaster to aggravate national division and resentment. (Yonhap News)