South Korean government concessions to popular movement

This video is called South Korea Protest US Beef.

By James Cogan:

South Korean government tries to stem protests against US beef imports

24 June 2008

The South Korean administration of President Lee Myung-bak has announced significant concessions in order to placate mass opposition to the lifting of a ban on beef imports from the United States and broader discontent over falling living standards.

US beef was banned from South Korea in 2003 following the discovery of a case of Mad Cow disease in American cattle. Lee, from the conservative Grand National Party (GNP) and a former chairman of the Hyundai conglomerate, announced an end to the embargo in April in order to advance negotiations toward a US-South Korea free trade agreement, which is desperately wanted by Korean auto companies and other major corporations.

3 thoughts on “South Korean government concessions to popular movement

  1. SKorea set to resume US beef imports, more protests called

    25/06/2008 08h11

    SEOUL (AFP) – South Korea announced it will resume US beef imports from Thursday after negotiating extra safeguards against mad cow disease, despite protests by tens of thousands over recent weeks.

    Opponents vowed to continue the candlelit rallies, which sparked a political crisis for the new government of President Lee Myung-Bak.

    Ministers said they have strengthened safety rules since Seoul reached a controversial April agreement to resume most imports after a five-year suspension.

    “It is important to keep a promise between individuals, and also to abide by an agreement between countries,” Prime Minister Han Seung-Soo told a meeting with ruling Grand National Party officials, stressing the need to move quickly.

    New rules on the imports will be posted Thursday in the government gazette, the party said in a statement after meeting senior government officials.

    Imports can resume immediately after such a posting, an agriculture ministry spokesman told AFP.

    Hoping to speed up a wider trade deal, Seoul agreed in April to resume most US beef imports. But under pressure from the mass candlelit rallies, it went back to Washington this month to revise the deal.

    US exporters have now agreed not to send meat from cattle older than 30 months, seen as more at risk of the disease, and the US government will verify the age of the exports.

    But protesters said the new safeguards are still inadequate and urged people to continue the rallies.

    “President Lee Myung-Bak’s apology has all turned out to be a lie,” said a group called the People’s Association Against Mad Cow Disease on its website.

    “Let’s hold our candles of anger again to call for our demands,” it said, calling for rallies Wednesday afternoon and evening.

    About 100 people blocked one of Seoul’s busiest streets for more than two hours with a sit-in. Riot police eventually dispersed the crowd and detained some 10 of them.

    “Judgement on Lee Myung-Bak who declares war against the people!,” they chanted.

    Lee apologised last week for his handling of the issue. He has also called for tough action against violent protests following clashes with police Saturday night in which a police bus was smashed and dozens slightly injured.

    Some groups have threatened to block the expected distribution of 3,300 tons of frozen US beef being stored in the southern port of Busan. A total of some 5,300 tons is now in Korea awaiting inspection.

    The White House said Tuesday that a widely expected visit to Seoul in July by US President George W. Bush would not take place, but did not link it to the beef protests. It said he may come later in the year.

    The opposition has been boycotting parliament to press demands for a full renegotiation of the beef pact.

    “This is another declaration of war against the opposition and the people,” the main opposition United Democratic Party said in a statement.

    Police use fire extinguishers on protesters during an anti-US beef rally in Seoul
    ©AFP/File – Kim Jae-Hwan

    Agriculture Minister Chung Woon-Chun said Tuesday the resumption of the imports could not be delayed any longer. But he promised a new strict system under which restaurants — even burger joints and meatball restaurants — must disclose the origin of their beef products.

    Some 100,000 people packed central Seoul in a peaceful June 10 demonstration. Rallies since then have been far smaller but a few have ended violently.

    About 190 policemen have been injured with 58 police buses damaged during the weeks of protests, according to official data.


  2. Pingback: Mad Cow disease in the USA | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: South Koreans protest Bush’s mad cows, mad wars | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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