Anti-rally law starts, sparks protests

With the G-20 Summit scheduled to begin in less than 41 days, the special law for security took effect yesterday and has already barred a civic activist from Japan, who was on a Ministry of Justice blacklist, from entering the country.

Japanese activist Hajime Matsumoto, 36, was invited to attend a Korean civic group’s event next week, but the Korean immigration office blocked his entry on Thursday and he was forced to go back to his country yesterday.

Though the immigration office declined to give an official reason for his rejection citing security concerns, sources told the JoongAng Ilbo that it is related to tightening security measures ahead of the G-20 Summit in Seoul in November.

Matsumoto, who previously visited Korea in April, was invited to attend a local youth gathering on Oct. 6.

Matsumoto is a high-profile Japanese civic and artistic activist who runs a secondhand shop in Tokyo’s Suginami Ward. He’s also the author of the best-seller “Attack of the Working Poor.”

More than 500 anti-G-20 activists from 81 civic groups, including the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, gathered in Jongno yesterday afternoon to denounce the G-20 and the special security law.

Activists described the special law as “effectively martial law” because it allows the chief of the Presidential Security Service to mobilize the military and police troops, and use sound cannons to block demonstrations and rallies.

They also expressed concerns that the use of sound cannons could make a person deaf if he or she was exposed to them for a long time.

“No reason can justify the special law for security because it ignores our freedom of assembly and demonstration,” the liberal groups said.

They added that they plan to hold large-scale rallies between Nov. 6 and 12.

“The National Police Agency commissioner will announce the guidelines for security measures for the G-20 Summit around Oct. 10 after insider meetings,” a police official said.

By Kim Mi-ju, Kim Hyo-eun [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]