South Korea police fire water cannon at workplace protesters in Seoul

SOUTH Korean police say they have fired water cannon, reportedly for the first time in three years, at demonstrators in Seoul protesting against hundreds of job losses at a major shipyard.

Police used the cannon to disperse an 800-strong crowd marching across central Seoul towards the headquarters of Hanjin Heavy Industries today, a police official who declined to be named said.

No-one was injured or arrested, he said.

“We fired the water cannon after protesters marched beyond police lines and occupied more traffic lanes than allowed, causing a major traffic jam,” the official said.

Television images showed protesters using umbrellas and banners to shield themselves from the powerful water blast.

The move came after more than 2500 protesters rallied across downtown Seoul last night to call for Hanjin to reinstate about 400 workers laid off last year. Many continued the protest with today’s rally.

Since last night more than 9000 police officers have been deployed to the streets, said the official, adding that the protest organisers would face “stern measures” for violating rules.

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