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Disability rights group’s protest pauses, subway disruption temporarily halts

Members of Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination stage a demonstration at Gyeongbokgung Station on Friday morning. (Yonhap)
Members of Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination stage a demonstration at Gyeongbokgung Station on Friday morning. (Yonhap)

Delays in subway operations will stop temporarily as a disability rights advocacy group decided to pause its daily rush-hour subway protests.

Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination, Korea’s largest disability rights group, said Sunday night that it would pause its subway protests until next Monday.

The disability rights advocacy group said it will wait until next Monday when finance minister nominee Choo Kyoung-ho is expected to give an official answer to its request at a hearing.

Choo on Saturday last week said he would provide answers to questions regarding SADD’s requests, if he is asked.

SADD noted it would continue its protests in subway stations but promised not to perform any actions that could cause delays to train services.

Since last year, the disability rights advocacy group has been asking the government to set up measures and budgetary funds for the improvement of both mobility and disability rights.

SADD’s subway protests have continued since and often caused delays in subway operations, particularly during rush hour, as some of the group members used their wheelchairs to stop trains from departing.

The advocacy group last month halted the subway protests and turned to a daily head-shaving protest campaign after President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s transition committee pledged to look into the group’s demands.

The transition team provided some measures to improve mobility rights, but the group resumed its subway protests last Thursday, saying that the transition team’s suggestion does not include a specific timeline and a detailed plan for securing the necessary budget.

Meanwhile, Park Kyoung-seok, co-head of SADD, was questioned by police on Monday over violating laws by disrupting subway operations when holding six subway protests between January and last November.

Upon arriving at the police station, Park urged the government to first launch investigations into cases that have violated rights of the disabled.

Park also demanded an official apology from Lee Jun-seok, the chief of the main opposition People Power Party, requesting that he not politicize disability rights issues.

Previously, Lee posted messages critical of the disability rights group’s protests, saying they are turning citizens into “hostages.” Lee also implied that the subway protest is a politically-loaded campaign against Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon, who is also from the main opposition party.

Lee’s comments later caused the issue to be more fiercely bandied about among local politicians, making it a partisan issue.



By Shim Woo-hyun (ws@heraldcorp.com)
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