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More protests held this year in S. Korea, despite spike in COVID cases


The number of protests held this year has jumped, even as the country’s daily coronavirus tally and the number of critically ill patients have continued to increase throughout this year.

According to the National Police Agency’s report released Tuesday, the number of demonstrations held nationwide during the January-November period reached 79,407, around 238 protests per day.

Last year, the figure marked 77,453 over the same period, police said.

Demonstrations particularly spiked in November, after the government eased social distancing rules.

In October, the number of demonstrations per day reached 170, coming down from 347 in June. The figure, however, climbed back to 250 in November.

Police noted that labor protests mainly contributed to the increase. The number of labor protests organized by construction and truck drivers increased 10 percent on-year, according to police.

The sizes of the protests, however, fell this year, as the government continued to impose tightened restrictions on public gatherings. Between July and October, for example, the government banned demonstrations in Greater Seoul.

A total of 4,985 demonstrations were prohibited by the government as of end-November, up from 4,380 last year.

Due to antivirus measures, however, the number of people who joined demonstrations this year declined to 1.2 million, from 1.7 million last year.

By sizes, demonstrations with under 10 participants accounted for 62.7 percent of the total, and demonstrations with 10-99 participants accounted for 36.5 percent of the total. Demonstrations with more than 100 people accounted for only 0.8 percent.

Police expect the number of demonstrations to increase down the road, ahead of the country’s presidential election in March and nationwide local elections in June.

Demonstrations organized by operators of small businesses are also expected to grow, as their concerns over financial damages have increased after the government recently restored curfews on business hours.

By Shim Woo-hyun (