Korean lawmaker throws tear gas, punches to stop US trade agreement

Today, South Korea’s parliament was scheduled to vote on ratifying a free-trade agreement with the United States. The bill was passed, by a fairly strong margin even, but it didn’t go through without incident.

A South Korean lawmaker, identified as Kim Sun-dong by The Guardian, tossed a canister of tear gas into the room in an apparent attempt to put a halt to the vote, which resulted in a brief scuffle between lawmakers shortly afterwards.

Lawmakers carried on despite the chaotic happenings, some wearing masks and covering their mouths and noses to shield themselves from the noxious fumes, and ultimately ratified the trade agreement between South Korea and the United States with a vote of 151 to 7.

The opposition is fueled by fears that the agreement will favor the US more than South Korea and worsen economic inequality. Another concern is that the deal would only serve to make big export companies all the more rich.

However, the government argues that the agreement will only strengthen South Korea’s economy and lessen their dependence on trade with China. In the process, South Korea’s relationship with the United States would become stronger through the trade agreement, which offers some comfort to supporters in a time of growing military threats from North Korea.

via NY Times

[Image credit: Yonhap/Reuters]