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'Comfort women' support group unable to rally in usual area amid pandemic

All News 09:21 July 03, 2020

SEOUL, July 3 (Yonhap) -- A Seoul ward on Friday banned all rallies in major areas under its jurisdiction near the former site of the Japanese Embassy as a precaution against the new coronavirus, including weekly rallies held by an advocacy group supporting wartime sex slaves and its opponents there.

The ban, imposed by the Jongno Ward Office, has gone into effect as of midnight in designated parts of central Seoul. It will stay valid until the country's infectious disease alert level is lowered from "serious."

The Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery, which supports the victims, euphemistically called "comfort women," has been holding rallies there every Wednesday for more than 28 years.

Until recently, the Wednesday rallies took place in front of a bronze Statue of Peace located just across from the former site of the Japanese Embassy before conservative civic groups reserved the protest spot in opposition to the advocacy group.

The protest-ban zone includes other areas in Gwanghwamun -- including streets surrounding the United States Embassy, the Jongno Ward Office and the Jongno Fire Station.

Individuals and organizations that hold rallies in the designated areas may face fines of up to 3 million won (US$2,502) under the infectious disease control and prevention act.

Press conferences, which do not need to be reported in advance, are allowed, but organizers will be fined if they develop into protests.

This photo taken on June 24, 2020, shows participants in a weekly rally supporting comfort women holding pickets at the former site of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul's Jongno Ward. (Yonhap)

mlee@yna.co.kr
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