August 5th, 2008
09:07 AM ET
10 years ago

Protesters greet Bush in South Korean capital

President Bush walks with South Korean Foreign Minister Yoo Myung-Hwan.

President Bush walks with South Korean Foreign Minister Yoo Myung-Hwan.

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) - Thousands of protesters packed the streets of the South Korean capital Tuesday as President Bush arrived for the start of his Asian tour.

While some of the demonstrations were peaceful, violence erupted at other protest sites. In one instance, riot police fired a water cannon to keep the crowds at bay.

Police said they detained about 80 protesters. They estimated about 2,700 people were participating in the protests, which included a candlelight march and a sit-in. But the organizers said some 10,000 were taking part in the demonstrations.

Bush's week long trip to the region is his ninth visit as president. His stop in Seoul comes just a few months after violent street protests erupted over worries about the safety of U.S. beef imports.

While those tensions seem to have eased, the United States' nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea is also a concern.

Michael Green, a former Bush adviser on Asian affairs, and now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says Seoul's proximity to North Korea contributes to an ongoing unease.

"The North Koreans have 11,000 artillery tubes and rockets aimed at the South Korean capital, so any little thing that we do with North Korea makes the South Koreans very jittery," Green said.

He added, "On the other hand, the U.S. has to worry a great deal about where terrorists might get nuclear weapons or nuclear material."

After South Korea, the president will go to Thailand for what's being billed as a major Asia policy speech.

He's expected to denounce the military regime in neighboring Myanmar –also known as Burma - for its human rights abuses. First lady Laura Bush has fervently taken up the cause, and last May sharply criticized the regime for its response to a May cyclone that killed tens of thousands of people.

"The more I've seen, the more critical I see the need is ... for the world to pay attention to the people of Burma, and for the world to put pressure on the military regime," Mrs. Bush told reporters in a historic news conference in the White House briefing room - the first ever by a first lady.

President Bush will continue his Asia tour with a visit to Beijing to attend the 2008 Olympics, a decision critics have blasted, saying his presence gives China a pass on its poor record on human rights and religious freedom.

Last week, the president again defended his decision in an interview with China's state-run television network. "I think it's best for U.S.-China's relations that I go. I know it's important for me to send a clear signal to the Chinese people that we respect them," he said.

Bush plans to attend a church service in Beijing to deliver what is sure to be a carefully crafted message.

"He will have to say something public which is always tricky, how much he spotlights these issues," Green said. "And I think he will not (do it) in an adversarial way."

Last week, the president welcomed five Chinese dissidents to the White House, telling them he would carry a "message of freedom" to Beijing. The move drew a sharp rebuke from Chinese leaders, who accused the president of interfering with China's internal affairs.

Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (155 Responses)
  1. Not sleeping at the switch

    Protesters greet Bush in the US all the time! How is this news?

    August 5, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  2. Judgement over Experience

    Question?? why is it that no matter where Bush or Mccain go there are protestors and hecklers?

    August 5, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  3. RDS

    I guess this makes the McCain supporters proud as compared to thousands cheering an American senator. Because who wants a President who is actually respected around the world. Only fools would want that.

    August 5, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  4. Wake Up America

    When President Bush visits a country he is greeted by protesters. When Obama visits a country, he is greeted with warm wishers holding the american flag. It is time for a change!

    August 5, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  5. DAN

    The right and freedom to protest and criticize without being called racist. That's democracy.

    August 5, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  6. Sylvia

    This is the reason why we need to vote for Barrack Obama. Obama would have a large crowd welcoming him to their country. Bush is a disgrace.

    August 5, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  7. rich, ca

    what else is new? protestors greet bush everywhere in the world he goes, burning american flags no doubt.

    but 200,000 flag waiving europians, that much worse, right neocons?

    August 5, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |

    Bush should be infinitely ashamed of himself.

    IAnd yet I can't help but wonder what protesters will do to Obama when they finally wake up and see that Obama Promise 1, Obama Promise 2, Obama Promise 3, etc, are just EMPTY PROMISES.

    Darragh Murphy, the ineffective, if not petty and apparently corrupt treasurer of PUMA PAC, should be ashamed of herself, too.

    Members of PUMA PAC are waking up!

    August 5, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  9. MIA in Miami


    August 5, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  10. AL

    There goes the other end of that spectrum. A few weeks ago, everywhere the other guy went people were chanting and happy to see him. Now that guy shows up some place and there are protests/riots and so forth.

    You choose a president that the world likes, or one the world doesn't

    Liked Not Liked

    You choose

    August 5, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  11. Ms. D

    Sure did not have protestors, when Obama went overseas!! GO FIGURE!!

    August 5, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  12. JIM...TX

    Bush should have asked Obama to go with him and maybe only half as many protesters would have shown up then...the rest would be supporting the next POTUS:)

    August 5, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  13. Curtis

    When Obama goes abroad, they cheer. When Bush goes abroad they come out in droves to protest. I think the world is ready for a new America too.

    August 5, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  14. jfs Memhis, Tn


    WHAT ??? NO 200,000 supporters ??? Should have taken McCain...with all of his experience he could have fixed everything. In fact, If John had shown up with Paris Hilton (a younger version of Cindy) the two could have given valuable advice to Bush.....he needs all he can get.

    McCain/ Hilton 2008/2012

    August 5, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  15. Bill in NY

    He is loved everywhere he goes!

    August 5, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  16. Independent-Minded American

    Contrast with Obama's usual reception from foreign dignitaries...

    Improve America's image abroad
    Improve America's strength and prosperity
    Improve American Standard of Living
    Make the American Dream Real...

    Vote Obama

    August 5, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  17. Joseph

    As dumb as bush is he probably thought they were greeting him like were were greeted after the fall of Bagadad.

    August 5, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  18. Len in Washington

    Let's see....
    Bush is greeted overseas by protesters.
    McCain is greeted overseas by indifference.
    Obama is greeted by cheering crowds.


    August 5, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  19. ProudDemocrat

    No body like Bush I do not care which county he goes to he is going to encounter protesters. It is sad every county in the world hates America because of the Bush, Cheney republican policy.

    August 5, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  20. Rudy NYC

    If they are worried about US imported beef, then don't buy it

    August 5, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  21. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    His popularity contines to slide.......and so will he into history.

    August 5, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  22. v.a.

    nobody can fuel world hatred like george bush. what a leader!

    August 5, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  23. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    Must be a great feeling knowing that you're one of the most hated men on the planet....

    August 5, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  24. Jeff Brown

    Less than 100 days and this piece of garbage will be gone for good!

    August 5, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  25. Chuck, Montgomery, AL

    Please keep him over there for about 5 months !!!!!!

    August 5, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
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