Seoul city vows strict response to illegal rallies on March 1

Visitors wearing masks to avoid the spread of COVID-19 fill out a form which is mandatory to get into a hospital in Seoul, South Korea

The Seoul city government vowed on Tuesday to respond strictly to all illegal rallies held in downtown squares on March 1 Independence Movement Day.

Conservative groups have again announced plans to stage rallies denouncing President Moon Jae-in, a liberal, at Gwanghwamun Square in the city centre on the national holiday, Yonhap reported.

Last year, the activists drew flak for holding a mass rally on August 15 Liberation Day, which set off the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

“We are in constant communication with the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency to learn the latest details concerning the rallies on March 1,” Kim Hyeok, a city government official, said during a virtual press briefing.

“We are fully aware of the seriousness of the situation with Covid-19, and remain committed to doing everything we can to stop the spread of infections from illegal rallies,” he said.

Since last February, the city government has banned rallies at Gwanghwamun Square, Seoul Plaza and Cheonggye Plaza in an effort to contain the virus.

Under Level 2 social distancing measures, which are currently in place in the capital area, gatherings of 100 or more people are also banned.

“As we receive details on the form, size and possible merging of rallies, we will take strict measures accordingly,” Kim said.

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