Wednesday marked the 22nd anniversary the June 10th, 1987 pro-democracy movement that led to South Korea's first direct presidential elections. Koreans struggled for their still-young democracy and now they're using their hard-fought rights to speak out against the current Lee Myung-bak government. This year's June 10th commemoration comes on the heels of the death of a former president known for his efforts toward democratization. His suicide added fuel to the fire of government opponents who accuse the Lee administration of infringing basic freedoms, such as the right to assemble and freedom of speech. Despite a police ban on yesterday's demonstration, some 30-thousand people flooded Seoul Plaza downtown. They were joined by about 12-thousand police officers. Although police attributed the ban to the chance that the gathering could turn violent and disruptive, the event was mostly peaceful. Local media are highlighting some isolated scuffles between police and demonstrators, but compared with the anti-U.S. beef rallies that grabbed international media attention last year for their violent clashes, yesterday's gathering was much less volatile.
Thursday's Seoul Calling program features interviews with some rally participants. My Seoul Calling co-host, Matt Kelley, and I were on the scene Wednesday evening. Thanks to Matt for these photos, which he shot while I conducted interviews.