The government reportedly said that it would take action to stop protests that have become more violent recently. Demonstrations have seen participants wielding clubs while trying to break through barricades against police water cannons.
"What began as a peaceful candlelight rally has changed in nature to a point where it is difficult to see any purity" in its cause, Prime Minister Han Seung-soo told a Cabinet meeting, a government Web site reported.
Large supermarket chains have said they would not sell American beef due to the negative public sentiment, and restaurants across the country have said they would not serve it. Local branches of McDonald's have advertised that they use Australian beef, not American.
Source: Associated Press