Friday, 4 July 2008

South Korean auto workers back beef protests

Published: July 2, 2008, IHT

SEOUL: Tens of thousands of auto workers went on strike Wednesday to oppose the resumption of U.S. beef imports to South Korea and the pro-business policies of President Lee Myung Bak, joining anti-government protests that have raged for weeks.
The walkout came a day after American beef returned to store shelves for the first time under a much-criticized agreement with Washington, though the sale was limited to one store run by a U.S. beef importer.
"U.S. beef is selling like hotcakes," said Park Chang Gyu, owner of the A-Meat store in Seoul, adding that about 400 kilograms, or 880 pounds, of meat was sold Tuesday. He said anti-U.S beef protesters held a demonstration in front of the store Wednesday, halting sales for about three hours.
Prime Minister Han Seung Soo was one of the first customers, buying about 12 kilograms. "I had American beef together with my grandson and other family members yesterday," Han's office quoted him as saying during a meeting with a local religious leader. "It was nice and tasted good."
The walkout by auto workers was part of a one-day strike by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions to protest the beef imports and various economic proposals by Lee, who took office in February.

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