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Protest meets South Korean President Lee

Published Apr 27, 2008 10:29 PM

Nodutdol for Korean Community Development and other groups organized a powerful demonstration at Manhattan’s posh Plaza Hotel on April 15 to protest a visit by newly elected South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak. Lee is a member of the ultrarightist, pro-U.S. Grand National Party, a party that has a close identification with the brutal dictatorships in the Republic of Korea (RoK) from the 1950s to the 1980s.

WW photo: Greg Butterfield

Lee was in the U.S. to meet with Bush to iron out the details of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in addition to fast tracking closer military and political ties to U.S. imperialism. To this end, Bush, with Lee’s full support, wants to spend billions of dollars to create a so-called Missile Defense Shield, which will contribute further to the militarization of the peninsula and escalate tensions between the RoK and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea).

Nodutdol and its allied organizations are opposed to the FTA. If passed, the FTA will lead to massive unemployment in the RoK as well as to the relaxation or even repeal of labor laws and environmental standards. Nodutdol also opposes the Missile Defense Shield and any further militarization of the Korean peninsula. The group advocates a withdrawal of U.S. occupation troops, a peace treaty to end the state of war with the DPRK, and peaceful reunification on Korean terms of the northern and southern halves of the nation.

The loud, militant demonstration disrupted what Lee surely thought would be a smooth visit. Other organizations that participated in the demonstration included Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea (SPARK), Congress for Korean Unification, Bayan U.S.A., the International Action Center, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) and the New York City People’s Referendum on Free Trade.