SEOUL, Jun. 26 (Korea Bizwire) — The Seoul metropolitan government and a minor far-right party are escalating a conflict over the latter’s protest tents reinstalled on Gwangwhamun Square in the center of the capital hours after their forced demolition on Tuesday.
The local government said Wednesday it will pursue all possible civil and criminal lawsuits against the Uri Republican Party, formerly the Korean Patriots Party, for “illegally” reinstalling tents on Gwanghwamun Square in defiance of an administrative removal order.
In response, the Uri Republican Party threatened to launch its own legal actions against the Seoul government for an administrative lapse and violence used against its members during the demolition process.
The party was established in July 2017 by supporters of ousted former President Park Geun-hye.
The wrangling dates back to May 10, when officials and supporters of the far-right party set up two tents and a shade canopy on the central Seoul square to call for the release of Park, who has been imprisoned since March 2017 on power abuse and corruption charges.
Party officials also set up altars inside the tents for five protesters who died during outdoor rallies in 2017 against the impeachment of the former president.
Before dawn on Tuesday, the city government removed the tents from Gwanghwamun Square after defining them as an illegal facility under the ordinance on the management of the square.
Five hours later, however, party officials and supporters reinstalled three tents on the same spot, and the number of tents then increased to eight by Wednesday morning.
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said in media interviews Tuesday that violent resistance put up by Uri Republican Party members against the demolition of tents constitutes a criminal act and that all participants in the resistance will be held responsible.
Park also said his municipality will seek to seize the salary of Rep. Cho Won-jin, the co-chairman of the Uri Republican Party, to redeem the demolition costs and other expenses.
On the other hand, the minor party said the municipality’s attempt to remove tents was in violation of the law on administrative procedures.
“Twelve people have submitted medical certificates on their injuries and 40 more will follow suit. We’ll launch litigation against the Seoul government for its administrative lapse and violence wielded against our members in the process of tent demolition,” a party official said.