Business owners, some in tears, had their heads shaved on a makeshift stage under a large banner reading "actual compensation for losses caused by COVID-19" just near the country's National Assembly.
"I haven't been able to pay monthly rent, so I'm facing an eviction suit and had to fire employees. I have no life. I'm standing on the edge of a cliff and must do something." said 51-year-old Yang Hee-kyoung, who runs a bar in the southern city of Busan.
South Korea reinstated tougher distancing curbs in December as record-breaking numbers of daily cases and critically ill patients threatened to saturate its medical system before the Omicron wave hit.
Earlier this month, the government extended the rules for three more weeks ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays.
The curbs will last until February 6, including a 9 p.m. (1200 GMT) curfew for restaurants, cafes and bars, but the limit on private gatherings will be raised to six fully vaccinated people from four.