S. Korean Lawmakers Brawl Over Trade Bill

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2008 2:04 PM CST
South Korean opposition Democratic Party members, right, struggle with security guards and aides from the ruling Grand National Party.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A melee erupted in South Korea’s parliament today as opposition MPs attempted to break into a closed committee chamber, the BBC reports. Members of the ruling party had barricaded the door as they began the process of ratifying a controversial free trade agreement with the US. Opposition lawmakers used construction tools to pry open the door, only to encounter security guards who sprayed them with fire extinguishers.

The committee chairman, from the majority GNP party, authorized the use of force to “keep order,” the AP reports. The committee succeeded in its task, which brings the bill one step closer to a vote in parliament. Opponents say the agreement will hurt South Korean farmers by allowing an influx of cheap American food. “This is a declaration of war against the opposition and the people,” the opposition Democratic party said.