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Time to move on

June 26,2017
Roadblocks and ID checkpoints in front of the Blue House in central Seoul have been removed for the first time in nearly half a century. President Moon Jae-in and his administration should be applauded for doing away with this symbolic show of power through excessive road security and walls to keep a distance from the public.

But it is dumbfounding that the first to respond to the invitation were protesters of the Metal Workers Union. The union members set up a tent on the sidewalk 100 meters (109 yards) from the Blue House. On the very day when the Blue House made the announcement, they occupied the space and called for the Moon government to meet labor demands. When the tent was removed by Jongno District officials, the union members set up another one seven hours later on the same spot.

The radical labor unionists disdain law enforcement and even acted as if the Moon government should pay the debt as they think they helped Moon win presidential power. The union plans to go on a general strike on June 30 to pressure Moon to satisfy their demands. It is self-deluded and arrogant to think they organized the candlelight vigils last year that eventually led to the impeachment and removal of Park Geun-hye from the presidential office. The peaceful protests were led by ordinary citizens who so far ask of Moon only to rebuild the nation on a policy of reason and justice, and do not demand anything else of him.

The tent was removed again by the Jongno District officials Friday night. The Korea Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) must not enrage the general public and must not think it can break the law. It also should remove all these tents, which are eyesores, from Gwanghwamun’s streets. If it really thinks it had a part in the launch of a liberal government, it should restrain from burdening it.

Law enforcement authorities must exercise fair execution of the law and not tolerate illegalities. If it cannot contain the labor union because the group is supporting the Moon government, the government cannot have any say when it comes to other illegal anti-government protests.

The banners, posters and tents related to the Sewol ferry sinking at the Gwanghwamun Plaza should also be cleaned out. The ferry has been recovered and endeavors to search for the missing victims have been under way. Law and order must stand and be administered fairly for every person and group.

JoongAng Ilbo, June 24, Page 26