49 students detained after overnight tuition cut rally

Police detained 49 collegians after a rally calling for tuition cuts late Thursday night.

Police used water cannons to disperse protesters after National Police Agency chief Cho Hyun-oh warned of a harsh crackdown on illegal rallies.

Clashes occurred between riot police and protesters as participants occupied several lanes as they took to the roads following a gathering at Cheonggye Square in downtown Seoul.

Despite the police taking tough action against the illegal demonstration, organizers of the rally said they will continue their tuition-cut drive until their demands are met.

“We had to use water cannons to disperse the students because they were illegally occupying the road,” a police officer said.

In the overnight demonstration, the students denounced the government for implementing improper measures for tuition cuts.

“In an upcoming session this fall, the National Assembly should enact a law to halve tuition. The government also should take measures to help students who can’t take classes due to a lack of money,” a member of the Korean University Students’ Association said.

After the gathering, hundreds of demonstrators began marching along the roads and clashed with police for about three hours. Some 100 occupied roads near Lotte Department Store and staged a sit-down protest

After several warnings, police used water cannons to disperse them. The police took 49 into custody on suspicion of violating the law on assembly and demonstration.

Some 400 others gathered at the square again afterwards and held events there throughout the night.

“The illegal protesters will be dealt with in accordance with the law,” the officer said, adding citizens suffered from traffic congestion and other inconveniences due to the rally.

A spokesman of independent Seoul mayor candidate Park Won-soon called for the police to release those detained.

“The authorities should reflect on why the students continue to demand tuition cuts despite the government’s plan to do so, rather than attempting to suppress their calls through police power,” he said in a statement.

The students and civic groups plan to continue their protest. A civic coalition for tuition cuts has organized a one-man demonstration at Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul for about four months, and vows to continue.

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