Monday, December 19, 2005


Violent Koreans in Hong Kong

The Chosun Ilbo
Korean Protestor in Hong Kong Mass Arrest

Some 600 Korean farmers and trade union activists were arrested on Sunday after all-night violent protests in Hong Kong during the WTO Ministerial Meeting there. Hong Kong police used tear gas for the first time since anti-British riots in 1967, and used armored vehicles to stop the rioters. It was the first mass arrest of Koreans abroad.

Altogether 1,400 South Korean activists took part in the protests against the opening of agricultural markets near Hong Kong’s Wan Chai that turned violent when protestors attempted to overturn police vehicles at around 5:30 p.m. Half an hour later, protestors armed with iron pipes wrested from police barricades faced off with police near the Hong Kong Convention Center, where the WTO meet was held. Seventeen policemen and 67 protesters were injured in the clashes.

Some 600 protestors continued violent demonstrations late into the night, culminating in a standoff on a stretch of a 10-lane road around Wan Chai where police had penned them in. Police arrested the demonstrators early on Sunday morning, after broadcasting an announcement in Korean. "Korean protesters, you will now be arrested on charges of violating Hong Kong’s public order law with your illegal demonstrations." The arrest proceeded slowly due to a shortage of security vans and took until around 2:40 p.m.

The Korean government has requested the protestors’ early release and asked Hong Kong to handle the situation properly. “We will work together with the Hong Kong authorities to ensure the situation is dealt with in a satisfactory manner,” a Foreign Ministry official told reporters. "The large number of protestors being taken into custody is very regrettable, and of course there is great concern about what will become of Korea's image in Hong Kong and the rest of the world.”

Meanwhile, WTO Ministerial Meeting ended on Sunday with the 150 member states agreeing to a “modest deal” of lower tariffs for manufactured goods and forestry and fishery products. But they failed to reach an accord on key issues concerning agricultural goods, including when exporters should stop export subsidies. They meet again in Geneva, Switzerland, in the first half of next year.
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