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Civic groups, labor unions pledge three days without demonstrations

Korea Herald, 14 June 2000

In a show of support for the inter-Korean summit, civic groups and labor unions are refraining from holding large-scale downtown protest rallies and news conferences during the three-day meeting.

Police said yesterday that no rallies with more than 3,000 participants are planned in downtown Seoul from June 13-15, during which South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il are holding talks in Pyongyang.

An average of five mass rallies per day have been held in downtown Seoul in recent days, they said.

Police were told earlier that a total of 46 large-scale rallies or news conferences would be held on Monday, but officials said only 23 went ahead as planned, well below the daily average of 60. The landmark inter-Korean summit was originally scheduled to begin on Monday, but was postponed a day at Pyongyang's request.

Most veterans' organizations, including the Korean Veterans Association, also announced their intention to put off scheduled mass gatherings until after the summit.

The thinking among local civic groups and labor unions seems to be that the public won't support rallies during the summit, a police official said.

The nation's two umbrella labor unions - the militant Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and the moderate Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) - have no plans to hold rallies during the summit period.

The Citizens Coalition for Economic Justice (CCEJ), a leading civic group, which has held an average three to four news conferences per week, has nothing planned this week other than a meeting on welfare policy among representatives of 11 civic groups.

We didn't intentionally cancel or postpone our mass rallies and news conferences, but we are trying to refrain from being too aggressive during the historic inter-Korean summit, said CCEJ official Kim Sam-soo, adding that like other civic groups, his organization is carefully monitoring the progress of the inter-Korean talks.

Kim, a member of the CCEJ's Korea Reunification Society, said his group plans to hold an inter-Korean academic seminar around June 20 in Seoul in cooperation with another civic group.