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'Mad Cow' Fears in South Korea

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Uploaded on Jun 7, 2008

CHEN:
Fifty thousand South Korean protesters start a 72-hour relay protest. They are against a government move to resume imports of U.S. beef that they say are dangerous.

STORY:
Thousands of people, worried about mad cow disease have held daily protests. They're accusing President Lee of kowtowing to Washington with the beef deal and ignoring safety concerns.

The organizers of the candle-lit vigil said 50,000 people were at the rally in downtown Seoul. The already week-long protest wants U.S. beef imports stopped.

These protesters say they hope the government will pay attention.

[Kim Hyun-lin, Protester]:
"We want to use this opportunity to highlight our opinions to the government, that we will not just sit idle and watch what the government is doing. I'm here to add support to the cause and raise my voice more loudly."

[Na Kyung-se, Protester]:
"This government is not listening to our requests in this rally and it's not taking any serious measures.
The government just expects the protests will die down sooner or later if the rallies are blocked."

President Lee Myung-bak has been clearly caught by surprise by the protests as his popularity has plummeted over the decision. Lee's conservative ruling party suffered a crushing defeat in local by-elections yesterday.

To calm public anger, the government says it will not allow imports of meat from older U.S. cattle, which the public sees as more dangerous.


Before the import ban in 2003, South Korea imported over 200,000 tons of U.S. beef a year, the biggest destination after Japan and Mexico.

The United States says it is willing to work with its Asian ally, but there was no need to renegotiate the deal.

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