PHOTOS: Brutal Crackdown by 4,000 South Korean Police is Epic Failure

On 22 December 2013, over 4,000 South Korean riot police stormed the headquarter of the nation's second largest trade union center– an unprecedented event in the country's post-dictatorship history which shows how determined the current regime is in clamping down on labor and democratic organizations.

Now the Dec 22 police crackdown is already being remembered as an ‘epic failure [ko]’, generating considerable mockery [ko] online.

It was not only the sheer scale of the crackdown which surprised people, but also these three facts that further enraged the already furious South Korean net users: the police break-in was done without search warrant [ko]; a progressive newspaper building's facilities have been damaged along the way; and police obstructed a peaceful protest that citizens held in support of these union workers.

Despite making a scene such as the photos below show, police have failed to capture their targets who are accused of leading the latest rail workers’ protests and were thought to be hiding in the building. Here are tweets shared widely by Korean net users:

The current regime dispatched several thousand police to capture a handful of labor workers. It shows how desperate and fearful they are about the current situation. It is just a year since they grabbed power, but what we see now are the typical symptoms of a lame-duck regime.

You journalists need to know this. This building happens to be also a place shared by the Kyunghyang Newspaper [*note: Nation's top progressive media outlet vocally criticizing the current administration]. Although we are thankful to you guys for covering this news, please document the fact that this building is where your fellow journalists stay. And protest with us!

[summary of what happened] 1. They broke into that place, claiming they were looking for their wanted men. But they were not there to begin with. 2. If they had warrants, they could be able to make excuses (about their forced entrance), but actually it turns out their warrant request was denied. 3. Then yet again, they obstructed ‘legal’ protests. 4. Later, it was caught on camera that these riot police used pepper spray on citizens. This is a proclamation of war against the people.

Once tweets of police's violent clampdown went viral online, many citizens in the city joined to fight with these struggling labor union workers. @sinbi2010 reported [ko] that over 20,000 citizens gathered voluntarily within few hours and clashed with police. Below are photos of the citizens’ clash with the police later that day.

<Urgent! SOS (distress signal)> We need to besiege the Park Junior's army. [referring to President Park Geun-hye who is a daughter of ex-president Park Chung-hee] @kyhal55: Please everybody come out. Please, citizens come out. 

(on 5:03 pm) Police have blocked citizens who are moving in the direction of the Kyunghyang newspaper building. Now they are chanting ‘Go away you violent police’ and confronting them.

Police now face legal issues [ko] ahead as civic groups and human rights lawyers are preparing for a package of lawsuits.

Police had no search warrant for the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). An arrest warrant is not legally sufficient for them to break into a place after tearing down locked doors. Moreover, legally speaking, the fact that police broke into the building shared by KCTU and the Kyunghyang newspaper by destroying their facilities, constitutes a felony of home invasion.


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