Protesters in S. Korea rally against G20 Summit

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Thousands of people gathered in the heart of Seoul on Thursday to participate in what turned out to be a largely peaceful protest against the G20 Summit hosted by South Korea.

A confederation of some 80 labor and civic groups, which calls itself "Put People First! Korean People's G20 Response Action," organized a rally at Seoul Station, with participants numbered at 6,000 by organizers and at 3,000 by police.

The rally was divided into two sessions. During the first session, protesters chanted slogans and songs denouncing workers' rights violations and a long-stalled free trade agreement between South Korea and the United States. They also opposed the G20 Summit, which they said fails to reflect the opinions of workers and poor people.

"Workers in each country, who are our companions and share the same beliefs and values as us, will welcome the news about our rally. In that regard, our rally has a very significant meaning as global solidarity while delivering a message to world leaders," said Kim Yeo-jin, co-director of the Response Action group.

"I hope (world leaders) stop this kind of meeting, which passes burdens on to workers or the people, on the pretext of economic recovery," said Yoon Ga-hyeon, 20, who was distributing leaflets saying "Stop G20".

Protesters then marched toward Namyeong Station, located in the vicinity of the National Museum of Korea, where a welcome dinner of the leaders was being held. At the start of their march, some had to scuffled with riot police who tried to block their way. But no violence or arrests were reported.

South Korea, hosting its largest-ever diplomatic gathering, has mobilized 50,000 police nationwide and enacted a special law restricting protests in areas close to the leaders.

The Response Action group designated Nov. 6-12 as its rally period against the G20 Summit.

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