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Take a deep breath

Feb 25,2017
We cannot but worry about an all-out war between the pro-Park Geun-hye group and the anti-Park group over the presidential impeachment. As the Constitutional Court enters a final stage for approving or disapproving the legislature’s impeachment, both sides are heading toward a last-minute confrontation by mobilizing as many allies as possible. The pro-impeachment group and the anti-impeachment group plan to stage massive rallies on Gwanghwamun Square and Seoul Plaza, respectively, on Saturday, following rallies on Friday.

A large-scale standoff could escalate into a physical clash at any time. Organizers of the pro-impeachment rally already marched from the independent counsel office in southern Seoul to Gwanghwamun Square from Friday evening to Saturday morning, while their counterparts vowed to mobilize five million supporters across the nation for a rally on Mar. 1, our Liberation Day.

Both camps endeavor to gather forces to pressure the top court to rule in their favor. The anti-impeachment group is ratcheting up pressure by posting on its home page a presidential lawyer’s remarks that “paved roads will be covered in blood.” Meanwhile, the pro-impeachment group threatens to hold rallies in 100 locations across the country after declaring a 48-hour emergency protest from 2 p.m. Thursday through 2 p.m. Saturday.

Both camps are openly determined to not accept the court’s ruling if it goes against their wishes. A chat room run by a far-rightist group even posted a message aimed to recruit “young assassins” and the court’s justices are being protected by 24-hour security guards. Whatever ruling the court delivers, chaos seems unavoidable.

No leaders are pleading for restraint. Instead of addressing the situation, our politicians are engrossed in rallying their supporters after fanning outrage and hatred at their rallies. Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn also appears reluctant to demand moderation from both sides due to his limitations as acting president.

Will a face-off between people with candles and others with Korean flags pressure the court in any way? Both groups must calmly wait for the court’s ruling and accept it. Presidential candidates must take the lead and proclaim their respect for the decision. As the nation suffers an unrivaled economic crisis and deepening diplomatic conflicts with China and Japan — not to mention uncertainties from the Trump administration in the U.S. — both sides must take a deep breath if they really want to prevent impeachment from leading to a catastrophe future.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 25, Page 26