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Illegal protests become less frequent

Illegal violent protests have significantly declined over the past couple of decades, especially since the 2008 inauguration of the Lee Myung-bak administration, police data revealed Tuesday.

According to the National Police Agency, an average of 12,200 demonstrations had taken place in each of the past three years. Of them, 56 cases, or 0.46 percent, were illegal violent protests ― a drastic decrease from previous governments.

During the administrations of Presidents Roh Tae-woo and Kim Young-sam (1988-1998), there were 7,264 protests annually, of which illegal violent cases made up 27.9 percent.

Illegal practices, then, had been reduced to 0.9 percent of the total 11,217 demonstrations over the next 10 years during the governments of Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun (1998-2008).

Less frequent violent protests also led to a decrease in police officers injured during conflicts between protesters and riot police.

Under the current administration, the number of injured police officers during rallies was 368 per year, while there were 3,333 and 547 injury cases during previous governments.

The police explained that less violent protests and reduced injuries are the result of the current government’s firm principle that has pledged to promote peaceful demonstrations while strictly responding to illegal cases.

“This year is also expected to see more social conflicts regarding major national projects, the pending Korea-U.S. free trade agreement and labor disputes. However, we will step up efforts to encourage rallies to be conducted in a peaceful and legal way,” said an agency official.

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)
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