People climb a hill near the National Health Insurance Service building in Wonju on Friday to join a rally by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, as they cannot enter the building’s main entrance that was blocked by police officers and their buses to prevent the rally due to safety concerns amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic in the country. Yonhap
A major umbrella labor union held a rally in Wonju on Friday, drawing some 400 people in defiance of the government’s calls for restraint amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) went ahead with its scheduled rally outside the National Health Insurance Service building in this city 132 kilometers southeast of Seoul, demanding the agency directly employ its call center workers rather than through a third party.
The government had urged the KCTU to call off the plan, citing the potential for mass COVID-19 infections as the country grapples with the fourth wave of the pandemic.
The government of Wonju raised its social distancing guidelines to the second-highest Level 3 effective Friday and separately banned all demonstrations involving more than one person, which falls under Level 4 restrictions.
Police set up a barricade around the empty lot where protesters were due to gather by parking buses and installing a fence.
They also set up checkpoints in nearby alleys to stop and question passing cars and people.
Some protesters went around the barricade to an adjacent park and entered the lot by climbing over a hill and a fence.
No physical clashes were reported between the police and protesters, and the rally ended after about an hour.
Meanwhile, an ambulance was called after a participant complained of dizziness due to the extreme heat.
Local health authorities said they plan to report the KCTU to the police on Monday on charges of violating the assembly ban.
On Thursday, Gangwon Province, where Wonju is located, reported the biggest number of daily COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, with 62, including 23 in Wonju.
On July 3, the KCTU drew around 8,000 people to a separate rally in central Seoul. Three participants later tested positive for COVID-19. (Yonhap)