South Koreans Protest U.S. Trade Deal


While you wouldn’t know it from watching American media, Seoul has been awash in protests for 40 straight days. South Korean President Lee Myung Bak, the former mayor of Seoul, was elected last December by a large margin as he promised to be the savior of the lagging economy. But it hasn’t turned out that way, and the people have taken to the streets protesting nearly every aspect of his presidency. The current, massive protests seen above were triggered by a deal signed in April that would re-allow American beef into South Korea (it was banned in 2003 after a U.S. outbreak of mad cow).

Lee hoped his decision to end the five-year-old ban on American beef would help win U.S. congressional support for a free trade agreement between the countries. Such a deal would further cement the alliance and help the South Korean economy, he said…. Thousands of students, communicating mainly through the Internet, immediately took to the streets. The protesters called the agreement a “humiliating” concession made under U.S. pressure and in disregard of Koreans’ welfare.
What really stood out about this story for me was how deferential the South Korean government is to their people. They’re begging for forgiveness, offering to resign, and just overall actin’ the bitch of the people. Which is how it should be, right? It’s like that famous Jefferson quote, “When the government fears the people, there is liberty; When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” (According to the Jefferson Library, he never actually said that. Whatever.)

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