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South Korea's 'street politics' highlights growing divisions

Millions gather in massive rallies for and against embattled Justice Minister

Supporters of Justice Minister Cho Kuk gather outside the Seoul prosecutor's office on Oct. 5. (Photo by Sotaro Suzuki)

SEOUL -- Supporters and opponents of scandal-hit Justice Minister Cho Kuk are holding massive rallies in Seoul, competing over who can draw the most protesters. Street protests to bring about political or social change are a tradition in South Korea, but fierce confrontations amplify the mutual distrust and deepen divisions.

"Communists, get out!" a middle-aged woman shouted at a man at Seocho subway station in Seoul in the afternoon of Oct. 5. "What? Say that again!" the man shouted back, causing an uproar around them. Supporters of the minister had gathered at the station to take part in a rally in front of the Supreme Prosecutors' Office.

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