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Rain forecast for Saturday’s anti-Park rally

The nation’s weather agency has forecast rain for Saturday, when another massive candlelight vigil will be held to turn up the pressure on President Park Geun-hye to step down from her post.

Rally organizers expect up to 2 million citizens to take to the streets of central Seoul, more than the turnout of 1 million two weeks ago. The scandal involving Park’s confidante Choi Soon-sil broke out more than a month ago and this Saturday will mark the fifth anti-Park rally to take place. It will be a two-day event, starting at 1 p.m. in Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul and continuing through 5 a.m. the next day. 

The Nov. 19 candlelight vigil in Seoul (Yonhap)
The Nov. 19 candlelight vigil in Seoul (Yonhap)

The expectations of another record turnout are in line with the recent series of events in which the conservative president was seen determined to cling to her power, even breaking a promise she had made during her second nationally televised public apology. 

Contrary to her previous words, Park had declared through her attorney last week that she would not cooperate with the ongoing prosecutorial probe. The remarks came after the law enforcement authority named her a suspect in its investigation of the Choi scandal. Park is accused of colluding with Choi and others to extort money from big businesses for nonprofit foundations controlled by Choi and forcing them to give business favors to companies run by Choi or her associates.

“The president is unyielding to the citizens’ calls even after the series of massive rallies. We will prove that we are more than just people who hold candles -- that we have rights,” the rally organizers said Wednesday.

Political observers view the upcoming fifth protest against the beleaguered president as a potential watershed moment in the snowballing scandal, with the government investigation, impeachment motion from opposition parties and special probe team due to be announced next week. 

The Nov. 19 candlelight vigil in Seoul (Yonhap)
The Nov. 19 candlelight vigil in Seoul (Yonhap)

Professors from the country’s top Seoul National University have decided to participate in the protest this weekend. Some 728 out of the school’s entire 2,200 professors released an official denunciation statement on Nov. 7.

On Saturday, some 950,000 citizens held candlelight vigils all around the country. For the upcoming rally in Seoul, residents from other parts of the country plan to come to the capital by public transportation and chartered buses.

More young students, including high school seniors are expected to take part, as the nation’s annual college scholastic ability test ended on Nov. 17.

The protesters plan to surround Cheong Wa Dae from different directions. Registrations for marches to four points close to the presidential office, including the northern part of Yulgok street, were denied by the police for security reasons.

The organizers have appealed to court to suspend the police ban. In previous rallies, the court reversed the police’s decisions hours before the rally begun.

Meanwhile, precipitation of up to 3 millimeters is expected on the rally day, the Korea Meteorological Administration said. In Seoul, it is expected to begin raining at around 3 p.m. Temperatures will reach a high of 4 to 5 degrees Celsius. 

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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