South Korean Labor Unions Protest Against U.S. Free Trade Pact

South Korean labor unions, students and farmers opposed to the planned free trade agreement with the U.S. rallied in central Seoul today, blocking traffic for more than hour.

As many as 5,000 demonstrators who had planned to march to President Lee Myung Bak’s official residence were turned back by police, said Lee Seung Chul, a policy director at the Seoul- based Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, which organized the protest. They also urged the government to make changes in labor laws, Lee said by telephone.

South Korea’s National Assembly has yet to ratify the trade pact while in the U.S., President Barack Obama is seeking to overcome opposition from some members of Congress.

South Korea’s free trade agreement with the European Union takes effect on July 1.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jun Yang in Seoul at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at

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