SEOUL – Police in South Korea refused to allow more candlelight protests against renewed U.S. beef imports hours after thousands of protesters clashed with police in the capital.

The South Korean government has reportedly said that it would not tolerate violent, illegal rallies. Police used buses to surround a plaza in front of Seoul’s city hall, the site of many rallies against the resumption of imports, to prevent people from gathering. About 1,700 people still gathered in nearby streets demanding that South Korean President Lee Myung-bak cancel his decision to allow beef imports again.

South Koreans have been protesting an April agreement to allow the importation of all beef products from the United States. The country had banned U.S. beef in 2003 after mad cow disease was discovered. The two countries agreed to allow all beef imports in April. After the protests started and grew, South Korea and America agreed last week to limit the imports to beef from cattle younger than 30 months old. Older cattle are thought to be more susceptible to mad cow disease.

South Korea started inspections of imported U.S. beef on Friday, the first full day that imports were allowed.


Source: Associated Press