July 16 (UPI) -- South Korea police have banned a local organization that has held "comfort women" rallies outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul from holding a massive demonstration during an upcoming anniversary.
Seoul police of the city's Jongno district said Thursday the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance had notified local authorities of plans to hold a rally that would involve 1,000 participants, Yonhap and Newsis reported.
The police have rejected the plans because of coronavirus risks, according to reports.
Lee Na-young, the newly elected president of the council since the resignation of the group's founder Yoon Mi-hyang, had said at a press conference during the organization's weekly "Wednesday rally" she plans to commemorate the comfort women movement on Aug. 12.
A public official with the Jongno district said the police declined the application because of a law regarding restrictions on public assembly being enforced amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Violators would be fined up to $2,500, according to Newsis.
Police told Yonhap the decision to cancel the rally was not specific to the group, which has been struggling in the wake of fund misappropriation allegations against Yoon. In June, as embezzlement allegations grew, an associate of Yoon who headed a South Korean shelter for former comfort women was found dead in her apartment.
Yoon, a lawmaker with the ruling Democratic Party, has been accused of purchasing personal real estate and paying for tuition at an expensive U.S. school using money intended for the victims of Japanese wartime brothels that were operating during World War II.
The council has been observing the anniversary since 2013. Aug. 14 marks the anniversary when Kim Hak-soon, a former comfort woman, publicly testified in 1991 about her experiences at wartime rape stations under Japanese colonial rule. Kim at the time was the first Korean woman to come forward to speak of her experiences.