by Yoo Seungki
SEOUL, March 1 (Xinhua) -- Peaceful rallies, which have lasted since a scandal embroiling President Park Geun-hye emerged in late October, have made many South Koreans proud of opening a new chapter in the way to express their opinions.
The festive scene, however, could come to an end as the streets are increasingly packed with more conservative extremists, who even threaten white terror in an open space. Some of them are conservative Christians and others paid for their presence.
The battle between pacifists and extremists peaked on Wednesday as both supporters and opponents of Park gathered just about 500 meters away from each other in central Seoul to mark the 98th anniversary of the March 1 independence movement against the 1910-45 Japanese colonization of the Korean Peninsula.
Though it rained at night, hundreds of thousands of South Koreans participated in the 18th candlelit rally, the first weekday protest against the impeached leader since the first Saturday demonstration began on Oct. 29.
Participants held candles and national flags, which are tied with yellow ribbon symbolizing the victims of the ferry Sewol disaster in April 2014, which claimed the lives of over 300 passengers, mostly high school students on their school trip to the southern resort island of Jeju.
They demanded the constitutional court uphold the bill to impeach President Park, who has been struggling with the influence-paddling scandal. The court is expected to decide around March 13 on whether to permanently remove Park from office or reinstate her.
Meanwhile, the Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul, where people have staged candlelit rallies in the past four months, was surrounded by a long queue of police buses to insulate anti-Park protesters from pro-Park loyalists.
Business as usual, Park supporters waved national flags as well as the Stars and Stripes on the streets, just about 500 meters away from the square, since they identify the patriots in South Korea as pro-U.S. followers.
The Park loyalists clamored for the rejection, or nullification, of the impeachment motion, claiming the candlelight rallies had been masterminded by the DPRK, or South Korean followers of the DPRK regime.
The cognitive dissonance went so far as to say that the constitutional court's justices and the special prosecutors should be killed or beaten with a baseball bat, a reminder of the white terror and features of Ku Klux Klan in the United States and Neo-Nazism in Germany.
Slogans have grown violent among the elderly conservative demonstrators, who are faithfully loyal to Park though many of her wrongdoings were revealed through investigations.
Conservative Christians with national flag in their hands held a prayer service in central Seoul, praying to God for the end to the "evil" protesters, which apparently indicate people attending the candlelight rallies.