South Korean activists stage anti-Biden rallies, call for peace on peninsula

Activists hold a candlelight vigil calling for peace on the Korean peninsula during US President Joe Biden's visit to South Korea on May 20, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (XINHUA) - South Korean civic and student activists held protest rallies throughout US President Joe Biden's three-day trip to the Asian country, calling for peace on the Korean peninsula.

A group of students from the Korean University Progressive Union on Sunday (May 22) held an anti-Biden rally near the US military base in Seoul's central district of Yongsan, where Mr Biden reportedly planned to meet staff members from the US embassy in Seoul.

"Leave this land, Biden, who escalates a war crisis on the Korean Peninsula," the student activists chanted, raising signs opposing South Korea-US joint military exercises and the South Korea-US-Japan military alliance.

"From the day Biden arrived here, university students continued to shout (in) anti-American voices. It reflects the desire of people. Nobody wants war in this land. Everybody wants peace," a student at the rally said.

The student activists followed Mr Biden during his tour to the air base where he first arrived in South Korea and later departed for Japan; a hotel where he stayed; and the presidential office where he held talks with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol.

Police were deployed at the rallies to prevent any untoward incidents. One student was taken to a hospital after a tussle on Friday night with policemen who blocked the rally near the hotel where Mr Biden was allegedly staying, according to local broadcaster YTN.

Just before Mr Biden's visit to Seoul, representatives from a total of 155 civic groups held a press conference, saying the South Korean government should adopt balanced diplomacy, not lopsided diplomacy that could bring a new Cold War confrontation to the Korean peninsula.

The civic activists alleged that if South Korea joins the US-centred military alliance - which excludes others - it would negatively affect the prospects for peace and denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula. Strengthened military cooperation between South Korea, the United States and Japan would result in the rearmament and revived militarism in Japan, the civic activists claimed.

They urged Mr Yoon and Mr Biden to stop war and confrontation and create an order of peace and coexistence.

The Korean peninsula remains in a technical state of war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

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A series of other peace rallies were conducted by civic and student activists during the US President's stay.

The People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) group held a candlelight vigil on Friday near Gwanghwamun square in Seoul, calling for Mr Yoon and Mr Biden to choose peace rather than military alliances and an arms race.

Some 100 peace activists from the PSPD and seven other civic groups staged similar rallies on Saturday near the presidential office in Yongsan, to which the South Korean president relocated his office from the Blue House after taking office on May 10.

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