SEOUL, June 8 (Korea Bizwire) – The number of false notices of protest, which were previously used by corporations and public organizations to block unions and civil groups from gathering and demonstrating, has dropped significantly thanks to a major police crackdown.
According to Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency, zero cases of so-called ‘ghost protests’ – a false notice of protest intended to block a date so as to disrupt other protests taking place – have been reported in the region since a new protest law took effect earlier this year targeting false protest applications.
To hold a public assembly or demonstration in South Korea, event organizers must inform local law enforcement of their intention to hold a protest in advance. However, false notices with the intention of obstructing other protests have become a social problem in recent years, often depriving the marginalized of their right to be heard.
Last year, Samsung Electronics in Suwon was criticized after being accused of holding over 80 ghost protests from January to April in front of their headquarters in Samsung Digital City.
Since then, a new protest law was put in place in January of this year, which stipulates that when organizers who have applied to hold a protest in a public space pull out of their scheduled event and other organizers as a result are unable to use the same space, a fine of up to one million won can be imposed on those who cancel at the last minute.
Those who violate the law once will be fined 300,000 won, while repeat offenders will see their fines gradually increase from 500,000 to one million won.
As a result, Samsung Electronics has reportedly not issued a false notice of protest even once since the new law entered effect.
Those without ill intention who wish to genuinely cancel or change the date of their protest will have to inform local law enforcement of their intention to withdraw at least one hour before the protest is scheduled to take place.
“Since the new protest law took effect, not a single case of so-called ‘ghost protests’ has been reported. Police are protecting the freedom to protest by letting major companies and organizations know that intentionally obstructing protests can result in legal consequences,” a police official said.
Hyunsu Yim (email@example.com)