In a telephone interview Friday with the Hankyoreh, Bae Jae-hun, head of the tenant countermeasures committee for Zone 3 in Seoul’s Myeong-dong neighborhood, said he had returned to the hospital that morning due to pain in his face and various areas of his body after being beaten by hired security personnel.
Bae, who has been holding a sit-in protest at Cafe Mari in the redevelopment area in Seoul’s Jung (Central) District demanding that measures be taken for relocation, was hospitalized Wednesday after attempting to fend off around one hundred hired security employees who came at him suddenly that morning. The employees dragged out tenants, along with university student and citizen sympathizers, and occupied the cafe before withdrawing Thursday night.
“There is clearly a law against this,” sighed Bae. “How are the security workers able to use these kinds of violent tactics?”
Friday morning saw a press conference in front of the cafe to denounce the rough tactics of the security workers. Around twenty people took part, including not only Myeong-dong tenants but also Cho Cheol-sun, head of the joint Poi-dong reconstruction village residence restoration countermeasures committee, as well as Korean Tutors’ and Education Laborers’ Union Secretary General Yu Deuk-gyu.
Residents of the Poi-dong reconstruction village, a Gangnam shanty town that was half destroyed in a fire, also clashed with around 50 hired security workers who had arrived at the village early Wednesday morning to tear it down. The Korean Tutors’ and Education Laborers’ Union, which had been holding a protest in the area of Seoul Plaza demanding that JEI reinstate fired workers and stop its union suppression efforts, saw its protest site forcibly demolished Monday by Jung-gu District Office and a security employee agency.
At the press conference, the participants said that tenants in Myeong-dong’s Zone 3, Poi-dong residents, and education workers would continue fighting in spite of “attempts to keep us quiet with violence.”
“We denounce the contracted personnel’s violence that is being indiscriminately perpetrated, and the government that stands by and allows it to happen,” they added.
In response to this, an official with the Zone 3 developer said, “There was some clashing in the process of trying to uphold property rights, and the conflict crew because there were a lot of people from outside along with the tenants.”
The official added that the company plans to guarantee the tenants’ ability to protest until August 16, when a final trial is scheduled for the eviction suit.