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

Protesters greet Bush in South Korean capital

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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. A Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    Barack goes overseas and is greeted by thousands of supporters!

    Bush goes overseas and is greeted by thousands of protesters!

    If this isn't clear that this country needs an image makeover, I don't know what is.

    August 5, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  2. ken

    wow, someone compare that to Obama..............

    August 5, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  3. James From Chicago

    I guess he should have let everyone think he was born in the manger,
    or that he was a Rock Star.

    August 5, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  4. Tim

    How can this fool have the nerve to strutt around the world as if he is some kind of hero? He needs to hide under his desk till this term finally ends. Hasn't he disgraced us enough? The arrogance!

    August 5, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  5. indiePA

    Your article on Duh-bya's visit to China indicated that he will be "walking a tightrope", diplomatically speaking. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! This should be interesting!!!!

    August 5, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  6. Lucy for HRC

    So what your telling me is that my choices are Obama or Suffering.

    Im no idiot I Choose Obama.

    August 5, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  7. CW4Barack

    America.....see what a symbol this man represents around the world! And we want to elect his twin brother John McCain.....no way!
    Look at the symbol that Barack Obama represented when he travelled overseas....hugs, handshakes, smiles and thousands of people lifting up the USA and waving our flags. That's what we need to get back to America. Sadly, John McCain cannot bring that back for us, but Sen. Obama has proven that he can and he will!!

    August 5, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  8. Hakim in Frisco Texas

    "Thousands of protesters packed the streets of the South Korean capital Tuesday as President Bush arrived for the start of his Asian tour." Just so I am clear we hate the fact of a politician going oversees and is actually applauded vs. protested and hated. Wait let me guess it's because President Bush has "kept us safe" and "they hate us because of our freedom". Come on folks, it is not an automatic for the President of the USA to be hated when he goes abroad, we can actually have people respect our leader vs. being hated. Barack Obama provides that opportunity for us to begin fresh with a better reputation than we have had the past eight years.

    Obama 2008 and 2012 Hillary 2016 and 2020.

    August 5, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  9. Gracie

    NOW, doesn't THIS tell the American Voters something? I mean Sen. Obama had 200,000 people greet him in Germany, waving the American flags.

    AND here comes BUSHMAN and he gets nothing but PROTESTORS everywhere he goes. If this isn't a warning sign to John McBUSH, I don't know WHAT is. The WORLD DOES NOT WANT ANOTHER BUSH in office. As an American voter, I certainly do NOT want John McCain any where near the White House, it would mean MORE protestors and bring MORE wars to our front doors!!! I think we are hated enough thanks to George W. Bush and John McCain.

    August 5, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  10. R.I.F.

    So I guess this is the way "middle America" likes to see their President when they go overseas. I think one of the silliest debates is that somehow people in other countries actually liking an American (Obama) is bad for America. How? Because if they like us they might actually help us fight wars? or if they like us they may actually agree to fairer trade laws that would help bring jobs back to the US? I just don't get it.

    August 5, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  11. Swanaay!

    *Golf Claps South Korea*

    August 5, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  12. Frank Ontario

    What a defining moment for the American people. Protestors always there when your President visits a foreign nation and it will only get worse with McCain as your President.

    Whether you like it or not Bush/McCain/Cheney are viewed as tyrants on the world stage with both their actions and their rhetoric. World wide history books will show these guys right up there with Mugabee and his ilk.

    August 5, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  13. Richard, St. Paul, MN

    Bush: The president loathed 'round the world! Can't wait to get rid of the Worst President Ever.

    Obama '08!

    August 5, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  14. Venus

    Obama should have went!

    August 5, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  15. Jack Jodell, Minneapolis, MN

    How amazing to be hated all over the world, and to not even care in the least!

    August 5, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  16. Obama-Junkie, IL

    How funny, sad and ironic, when a sitting president goes to foreign countries he is met with hundreds or thousands of protesters, but when a presidential candidate, Obama, goes to foreign countries he is met with ten of hundreds or hundreds of thousands of supporters?!?!

    Obama in 2008 and 2012!

    August 5, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  17. pj4521

    Obama gets 200,000 flag waving america loving germans, bush gets burnt in efigy, that says it all.

    August 5, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  18. Open Your 3rd Eye

    The only people this guy is ever "greeted" by are protesters. The same will occur for McCain if we are DUMB enough to elect him. Mark my words, the entire world is not blind, WE ARE.

    August 5, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  19. John McShame, Obama Is Going to Tax You & Cindy, but Not Me & 95% Americans Making < $250,000/Yr

    George Dubya is just an epitome of what the world doesn't like about america today: rude, tactless, incoherent, lacks foresight & vision and judgement to lead....

    John McSame trump G. Dubya in all these leadership traits; so instead of voting John McSame americans should just allow GW to rule 4 MORE YEARS!!!!

    George Dubya = John Senile leadership judgement = brain paralysis!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 5, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  20. Ed, Santa Fe NM

    Bush better get used to protesters... he's gonna see them for the rest of his miserable life.

    August 5, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  21. John Hussian Karsten

    What a morron bush is. I remeber when the Pope came to America and after the Pope gave a wonderful speech this boob says "awesome speech" to the Pope no less!!!!This is what the people of the world see us americans as. God help us if Mc____(fill in the blank) gets elected. I think i'll move to Mexico and take their jobs!!!!!!!!!!! Or better yet China, and make crappy toys filled with lead and products that fall apart after a year. Most of my house has crap from china and that shi# sucks!!

    August 5, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  22. Herman in LA

    ha ha ha what you expect Bush is the worst president of all times. We should have sent President Obama he would have been received with open arms.

    Vote Obama

    August 5, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  23. Ian

    It's unfortunate that our government doesn't have the constitutional authority to throw it's weight around like this, yet it does.

    August 5, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  24. J.C.

    It's pretty funny to see everyone in this photo wearing a lapel pin. If aliens were to see us, they might wonder if this pin is used for teleporting the person to another location in space like in Star Trek.

    August 5, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  25. Steve

    Wow! The Koreans are setting the stage for what the US will look like if McCain wins.

    August 5, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
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