South Korean students voice support for Hong Kong protests

SEOUL-- In a string of movements supporting the democracy protests in Hong Kong, South Korean students gathered once again Tuesday, demanding that authorities stop suppressing protesters.

"We condemn the suppression and support the Hong Kong protests. We hope the solidarity and support from Korea will reach the protesters in Hong Kong who are standing firm," Park Hae-shin, one of the organizers of the event, said.

Despite the chilly weather, dozens of students convened near the Chinese Embassy in Myeongdong, a neighborhood known as a shopping destination for foreign tourists, the majority of them coming from Asian countries like China.

A minor scuffle occurred ahead of the event planned for 11 a.m. as a police squad blocked the students from moving toward the embassy. No serious clashes were reported.

Officers from the Namdaemun Police Station told the students to end the event, saying they are blocking the road and holding a rally that was not reported in advance within 100 meters of the embassy.

Students responded that they were there to hold a press conference, not a rally.

"Our international solidarity is important. The Korean people have to also stand up against Xi Jinping and Carrie Lam," Han Su-jin, a student at Korea University, said.

One participant read a letter written by a student at Ewha Womens University who heads the Seoul-based college's association of Hong Kong students.

"Hong Kong is our home and hometown. We love Hong Kong more than anyone and are deeply hurt. We are not trying to claim Hong Kong's independence through the protests. We are protecting democracy that the people of Hong Kong had enjoyed."

Participants wrapped up the gathering by chanting slogans in both Korean and English -- "Stand with Hong Kong! Support Hong Kong!" -- and marching around Myeongdong.

They also shouted "Five demands, not one less," referring to the five demands of the protesters, including full withdrawal of an extradition bill and retracting the labeling of protesters as "rioters."

The participants said they will get together once more this weekend to hold a rally and march in the city center.

The pro-democracy protests that started in mid-June have shown no signs of abating. People took to the streets demanding that Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam withdraw a controversial bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China, which critics argue may undermine Hong Kong's democracy.

While Hong Kong's legislature has formally withdrawn the bill, the protests have intensified amid violent standoffs among protesters and police and claims by protesters that they were brutally tortured by authorities.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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