On Friday, a local court issued an arrest warrant for Yang Kyung-soo, head of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, on charges of violating COVID-19 rules by organizing a large rally last month.
Despite repeated requests from authorities and restrictions implemented as part of Level 4 social distancing rules, the KCTU held a rally with 4,701 of its members July 3.
Since the rally, Yang has consistently refused to cooperate with the police investigation, and an earlier arrest warrant request was denied as the KCTU head submitted a form asking for its postponement.
The arrest warrant was issued for Yang ahead of a KCTU rally scheduled for October, which is expected to have more than 1 million participants. Yang has argued that the arrest warrant is unjust, citing the right to assembly and freedom of speech.
While an arrest warrant has been issued, Yang and the KCTU have vowed to resist. Yang has said in media interviews that he will stay in the KCTU’s office in Yeouido, western Seoul, to avoid arrest, and KCTU officials are expected to use physical force if needed to protect their leader.
Police are considering whether to arrest Yang at the KCTU office, but would require a separate search warrant from the court as the existing warrant authorizes his arrest only at his registered place of residence. Officers would need to gather evidence, such as phone location records, to prove Yang is in the KCTU office.
Past examples show it could take months for Yang to be arrested. In 2018 Jang Ok-ki, then head of the Korean Construction Workers Union, under the KCTU, avoided arrest for 51 days after a warrant was issued because police ran into difficulties in the search of the union’s office in Yeongdeungpo-gu, western Seoul.
Jang was placed under arrest only after he voluntarily exited the building.
By Ko Jun-tae (email@example.com)Internet Explorer Channel Network