News / Asia

Fight Threat Delays US-S. Korea Trade Agreement Approval

Conservative protesters shout slogans during a rally supporting the South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) talks near the National Assembly in Seoul November 1, 2011.
Conservative protesters shout slogans during a rally supporting the South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) talks near the National Assembly in Seoul November 1, 2011.

The threat of physical fighting erupting among South Korean lawmakers is delaying approval of a crucial trade agreement with the United States.

For a second straight day, opposition politicians are blocking their colleagues in the governing party from entering a parliament conference room. That has prevented a committee from sending to the full National Assembly the South Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.

If it makes it to the floor of the parliament it is guaranteed passage because the Grand National Party composes the majority and it favors the measure.  But many lawmakers of the Democratic Party, who initially supported the pact four years ago, now oppose it.   Among them: former Unification Minister Chung Dong-young.

Chung says he is not fighting for the party, but rather the fate of Korean citizens.

The only thing the two sides appear to agree on is that physical violence will erupt among lawmakers if the ruling party attempts to proceed with the ratification.   Monday, the Democrats rejected a compromise with the GNP and began a physical blockade of the committee room. They want to remove a clause that would allow American investors to file lawsuits against Korean companies with an arbitration group.

A similar clause exists in current South Korean trade deals with the European Union, Chile and Singapore.

The U.S. Congress ratified the agreement on October 12. It was first negotiated in 2007 when previous administrations were in power in both Washington and Seoul.

Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan says it is essential to approve the agreement because it will give a boost to South Korea's slowing economy.

Bahk says the government has already declared that it will readily provide a full package to support those in South Korea who will be damaged by the agreement.  He says it is time for swift action and moving ahead with ratification.

After endorsement by legislatures in both Washington and Seoul the agreement is to take effect in 60 days. South Korea's failure to approve it by Monday means it will not be implemented on January first, as had been anticipated.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs