Un chief calls for calm and communication in koreas, calls for peaceful resolution of 'unprecedented' protest movement

By Atsuko Fukuda

Korea's Unification Ministry, an agency charged with protecting rights of civil society organizations, has called on Koreans to keep their peace on Sunday as a large anti-government demonstration broke out in the country's largest city.

A handful of protesters have clashed with police on the central government complex near downtown Seoul, with many using megaphones to shout slogans. But there was no clash, with security forces using tear gas to disperse them.

"In recent years, the security forces have faced criticism from civil society because they failed to protect civil society," Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Seung-hwan said in a teleconference with reporters.

Police arrested a dozen protesters Thursday for disturbing the peace after a dispute between police and the demonstrators turned violent, he said. A video shows protesters fighting with police.

"We will respond as needed to this type of activity. The protests continue, and we will have the strength to handle the situation properly once the situation dies down," Kim said.

The violence began Monday night when protesters disrupted a government-run memorial service for former President Roh Moo-hyun and began a rally in response on Sunday night, South Korea's Yonhap바카라사이트 news agency reported.

The demonstrators demanded a return to the constitution under the current rules and freedom of expression as well as their share in the nation's prosperity and job creation.

While the anti-government demonstrators called for free electigospelhitzons, they said they oppose a referendum on independence by the South for the first time sinc더킹카지노e independence in 1945, but the government has said the referendum will go ahead and would take place in the summer.

The demonstrators had planned to join the pro-government rally on Sunday night but halted their march after officials detained dozens of demonstrators, including some with cellphones.

More than 4 million South Koreans have joined protests to demand the country's leader change a decision to return to the 1950-53 constitution, which the military ruled.

The government wants a national vote next year and was planning to hold a constitutional reform referendum this year. But the anti-government demonstrators said they wanted to vote on independence as they consider the nation's future direction, South Korea's national government news agency said.

Demonstrators have held rallies and parades around the world to advocate for a "people's" constitutional referendum but many say a parliamentary vote would not have sufficient legitimacy to be called