A disability rights advocacy group on Friday resumed its subway rush-hour protests, a day after the city government of Seoul did not accept its request for a one-on-one meeting with Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon.
After a two-week hiatus, the group gathered again after multisite protests to call for increased budget and measures to ensure the mobility rights of the disabled.
Member of the Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination began simultaneous demonstrations at several stations, including Oido, Yongsan and Seoul stations Friday morning, and regrouped at Samgakji Station on Seoul subway Line No. 4 at 2 p.m. for a rally. SADD explained that the rally was in mourning for a disabled couple who died in an accident while using a chairlift for the disabled at Oido Station on Jan. 22, 2001.
"The train service in the section where the demonstration took place may be delayed for a considerable amount of time, and depending on the situation, the train will pass without stopping at the station," the Seoul Metro announced via its official website.
Demonstrations began at around 8 a.m. Friday, with about 80 members of SADD protesting at Oido Station on Subway Line No. 4. The demonstrations delayed operations on the line, and led trains to bypass Samgakji Station without stopping, where a demonstration was underway.
"Although 22 years have passed since the tragedy at Oido Station, mobility rights for the disabled are still insufficient. We demand our mobility rights," members of SADD said.
After a press conference, SADD members attempted to board a train in wheelchairs from Oido Station to Seoul Station, but the Korea Railroad Corp. dispatched about 50 railway police officers to block them. After a three-hour scuffle, protesters were allowed to board the train at 11:20 a.m. after ensuring railroad officials they would not cause a disturbance on the train.
Other SADD members also held a press conference at Seoul Station on Subway Line No. 4 at 9 a.m. the same day, requesting an exclusive and public meeting with Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon and Deputy Prime Minister Choo Kyung-ho. Protestors tried to get on the subway after about a one-hour press conference, but were likewise stopped by subway officials.
Meanwhile, Park Kyoung-seok, head of SADD, appeared at Yongsan Station on Seoul subway Line No. 1 and asked for a meeting with Lee Jae-myung, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, who was at Yongsan Station to convey greetings for the upcoming Lunar New Year's holiday. A letter of request was delivered to Democratic Party Floor Leader Park Hong-geun.
Previously, SADD had suspended rush-hour subway demonstrations -- which the group has been staging since December 2021 -- until Thursday, while pushing to meet with Seoul Mayor Oh.
However, the city government instead proposed a private joint meeting with other disabled groups, which SADD rejected. After failing to reach an agreement, SADD announced the resumption of the rush-hour demonstrations.