The entire South Korean government has offered to resign in the face of a popular protest triggered by the lifting of import restrictions on US beef. The Korean government withdrew a ban introduced to prevent mad cow disease, setting off demonstrations expected to bring a million people onto the streets today. The original agricultural dispute has expanded into a wider movement against Lee Myung-bak, the former construction executive elected president 4 months ago.
Lee lifted the ban in April to win support from American lawmakers for a wider free-trade accord, Bloomberg reports, prompting charges that he is insensitive to public health concerns. "What started off as non-political protests against US beef have evolved into violent outbursts against Lee's overall leadership style,'' said a political analyst. "People are unhappy with his style of a corporate chief executive dealing with the beef issue as just another business project.''