Tens of thousands of protesters beating drums and chanting slogans marched Thursday on the anniversary of a bloody 1980 uprising to demand the overthrow of President Roh Tae-woo.
About 60,000 students, townspeople and opposition supporters gathered in southeastern Kwangju to denounce Roh and the United States for suppressing the 1980 Kwangju rebellion in which 192 people died.Eight effigies representing Roh and seven other senior generals who commanded the army were burned as the crowd cheered and raised clinched fists in the provincial capital, 170 miles southwest of Seoul.
In Seoul and seven other cities, thousands of people also took part in marches, protests and religious services.
Thousands of riot police were deployed in central Seoul to block protests. Police chased students who ran through the streets shouting slogans, such as "Punish Roh Tae-woo!" and "Drive out the Yankee imperialists!"
In Kwangju, opposition leader Kim Dae-jung said right-wing forces were plotting to reimpose authoritarian rule in South Korea. "We must remain alert to crush them and inherit the spirit of Kwangju," Kim said in the message read to the crowd.
All protests were peaceful except in southern Chonju where radical students hurling firebombs attacked offices of the governing Democratic Justice Party. Police said there were no injuries.