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Events to mark first anniversary of candlelight vigil

A flurry of events are being planned in Seoul to mark one year since the start of the monthslong “candlelight movement” that led to former President Park Geun-hye’s ouster.

A committee formed to record and remember the candlelit rallies -- an association of five civic groups -- unveiled plans Monday, including a commemorative vigil, public discussions and film screenings. 

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

A total of 17 million people took to the streets for months from Oct. 29 last year, demanding Park step down over a corruption scandal involving her friend Choi Soon-sil. The protests pushed the parliament to impeach Park on Dec. 9. The Constitutional Court finalized her expulsion from power on March 10.

The first anniversary rally will be held at 6 p.m. at Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul on Saturday under the theme of “candle continues,” the committee said. Impromptu speeches will be made and several musicians, including the Jeon In-kwon Band, will perform onstage.

Through the rally, participants will not only celebrate the removal of the ex-president, but also call for swift actions to eradicate “deep-rooted evils” to make society fairer and safer, the committee said during a press briefing.

“Our 17 million candle citizens began to write a new history of democracy, but questions remain over how many of the 100 demands we put forward were realized,” said Jung Gang-ja, one of the co-heads of the committee. “We cannot help but declare that the candle (movement) should continue.”

Among the 100 demands are tougher actions against corporate crimes involving major conglomerates, the improvement of labor rights and reforms of the election system, political system, conglomerate-dominated economy and state-controlled media.

Before the main event, some 15 rallies -- speaking up for the disabled, students, irregular workers and sexual minorities, among other groups -- will be staged at separate locations at or near the square, calling for social reforms for the marginalized, according to the committee.

The committee is now working on a white paper on the candlelight vigils that took place between Oct. 29 and April 29 with intentions to publish it by the end of the year. The white paper will be distributed to civic groups and public libraries across the nation, with an online version to be available as well.

It is also trying to install a statue at Gwanghwamun Square to commemorate the candlelight protests by March 10 next year. March 10 is when Park was expelled from power by the top court’s decision.

The committee is also set to hold public forums on Dec. 9 to discuss what they learned through the candlelight movement and screen documentary films on the candlelight movement on Oct. 28 in Seoul, Gwangju and Jeju Island and on Nov. 4 in Busan.

South Korea’s candlelight vigils have been praised as a symbol of democracy for removing the embattled leader from power through peaceful protests.

Those who participated in the candlelit rallies received an internationally recognized award last week for their commitment to peace and democracy from the German political foundation Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

By Ock Hyun-ju (laeticia.ock@heraldcorp.com)
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