SEOUL, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) - Hundreds of civic groups and labor activists held a series of rallies in the South Korean capital on Saturday under the slogan of "Occupy Seoul", joining the Occupy Wall Street movement that started in New York and has reverberated around the world.
Demonstrators gathered to protest outside of the Financial Services Commission in Yeouido, the main financial district of Seoul, against financial inequality prevailing in the country.
They vented their anger at capitalists, financiers and economic policymakers, and called for greater financial regulation.
Mild clashes broke out between police and protesters before another massive rally which was planned to be held at Seoul Plaza in central Seoul.
Police blocked the protesters trying to march to Seoul Plaza as they had not authorized the venue to be used for the demonstration.
However, the protest continued without further violence.
While the Occupy Wall Street protesters in the United States have poured much of their anger on the excesses of Wall Street financiers, the Occupy Seoul protest drew attention to a range of issues including scrapping the free trade agreement with the United States, reducing rent and tuition fees, and demanding stricter regulations of the financial industry.
The demonstrators held up banners that read: "We are the 99 percent." They also made speeches, sang songs and carried candles in protest of the greed and corruption of the richest one percent.
"The poor people keep getting poorer while the rich people become richer. However, politicians are indifferent to hardships of the poor people, and I participated in the event because I thought that's why ordinary citizens must raise their own voices," said 36-year-old Lee Hye-jung.
"This kind of protest won't bring immediate changes to the foundation of capitalism or government policies. But if many people continue to criticize harmful consequences of capitalism and search for new methods, policies and government leaders' thoughts will change someday," said 26-year-old Lee Se-young.