South Koreans have been protesting since late April on the government’s decision to reimport US beef. The protest reached its peak since Friday with tens of thousands of protestors flocking Seoul in a 72-hour rally to pressure president Lee Myung-bak to renegotiate the deal.
US beef had been banned by South Korea since the first case of mad cow disease in the US was discovered in late 2003. Lee’s government however signed an agreement in April 2008 to resume importing US beef to clear the path for a broader free trade agreement, which could see 20 billion dollars rise in annual trade between the two countries.
The decision is not welcomed by the public, stating public health concerns. The government tried to calm public anger by asking the United States to refrain from exporting any beef from cattle above 30 months old (which is more proned to the disease) but it doesn’t go well with the public which are asking for a complete renegotiation.