Thousands of angry South Koreans continued overnight rallies in central Seoul till Thursday morning, as their government pushed for the implementation of the controversial deal with the US on the resumption of beef imports.
Opponents called for the full renegotiation of the pact signed on the eve of the Camp David summit between President Lee Myung-bak and his counterpart George W. Bush in April.
Policemen detain a protester after an overnight candle-light rally demanding a full-scale renegotiation of the beef deal with the US and the resignation of President Lee Myung-bak on the road leading to the US embassy and the presidential Blue House in Seoul June 22, 2008. South Korea, which reworked an unpopular US beef import deal that sparked mass street protests, could soon resume imports once a legal step has been completed, the trade minister said on Saturday, while tens of thousands of people fearing infection of mad cow disease held the anti-government rally. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, about 2,000 protests, mostly candlelight vigils, against the beef deal in Seoul and some other cities have been largely peaceful.
But some protesters clashed with riot police during the latest overnight demonstrations.
They also hurled small sand-filled bags, rocks, and water bottles at riot police trying to block them from marching toward the presidential office.
Police used water cannons briefly and fire extinguishers against demonstrators who used ropes to try to pull a police bus out of a barricade.
More than 120 protesters were arrested. Some demonstrators and riot police were injured and sent to hospitals.
Last week, South Korea secured the US government assurances that the country's exporters will not send meat from cattle older than 30 months, seen as more at risk of the mad cow disease, to South Korea. but critics vowed to continue protests, saying the measure is not enough to ensure the safety of imported US beef.
(Xinhua News Agency June 26, 2008)