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. Joyce memphis, tn

    Funny...when Obama goes on an international tour, he is greeted with love, peace, and harmony. When Bush travels about, he's greeted with protesters. This is not the first time this has happened. So who do you want to represent your country? A man who can help unite the world or a man who wants to mimick Bush's failed policies. It's your choice.

    Obama 08

    August 5, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  2. Don

    As the rightly should.

    August 5, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  3. Me

    hated all around the world...

    August 5, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  4. al




    August 5, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  5. Crush Rush

    Wow just think if he were in North Korea if this is what he gets in the south.Guess they dont want anymore Madcow tainted beef.

    August 5, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  6. al



    August 5, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  7. Cathy

    When Obama is President, it will be nice not to see the American flag being burned in other countries.

    August 5, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  8. proud army and navy mom

    impeach the idiot, now. don't forget cheney, tenet, rumsfeld, rice, etc.

    August 5, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  9. ben

    This will probably stay in moderation like every thing(almost) I write. But I don't care, I just hope one of you Moderators The fealing there is reads it!!!!!!!!
    I have been to Corea many times doing business with them. Let me tell you what they think of us! They believe We seperated them into two parts because we were afraid that a united Corea would attack Japan. They have good reason to hate the Japanese! When Japan invaded Corea, they treated the Coreans loke dogs! Naturaly we did not want this to happen, because we were planning to invest a lot of money in Japan to build their auto industry among other thing.
    My wife is Mexican and when I applied for a visa, they gave me two weeks. They gave her six months. they feel that if the US would pull out of South Corea, they could easily settle whatever differance they have, and unite once again. They DO NOT LIKE US

    August 5, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  10. Sherry for Obama




    August 5, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  11. Mac in Nova Scotia

    Once again Bush is greeted with an Anti-American demonstration in a foreign country. What a difference from what we saw when Sen. Obama made his trip overseas. McCain's camp is trying to belittle Sen. Obama's trip but I would rather see 200,000 people cheering and waving American Flags than to see people demonstrating against us.

    August 5, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  12. larry buchas

    Bush is a security risk wherever he goes. What a difference in the world's perception of this imposter versus Barack Obama.

    August 5, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  13. John

    It's a shame that President Bush must go through this on his travels. The left wing propaganda machine has tarnished the image of a man who has sacrificed much for the country, and the world.

    It's sad that this country cannot recognize a good President when they have one. When a man is staunch on his beliefs, he is labeled 'hard-headed' and 'stubborn' while a flip-flopper like Obama is labeled as 'willing to consider new ideas'

    This world is lost to the media giants.

    People can no longer think for themselves. Obama is evidence of that.

    August 5, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  14. Terry from VA

    Why are there protesters every where he goes. Becuase he has dishonored our military and our Nation.

    August 5, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  15. ET from OMAHA

    Go America shoot yourself in the foot, or cut the branch you are sitting on by voting McSame.
    I am in tears some people will never get over their egoism and face the reality. What a country! I hope we don't repeat the same mistake again.
    McSame is among those who created this problem we are in right now. How can you go to the same doctor that mistakenly unputed your leg for a another diabeties crises. That is Insannity.
    OBAMA 08

    August 5, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  16. Gini

    Few more months left till we can have a real president. Obama 08..This time its really time for a change. A huge change.

    August 5, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  17. jay

    Obama will never become you all need to feel sorry right now

    August 5, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  18. "Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it." Obama 95

    Ha.... too funny...

    10000 protestors... but really 2700...

    Kinda like 200000 Germans for Obama... that was really no more than 8000.... who came out to hear him be sorry about his country.

    PS: McCain is up in the polls for the first time today... bye bye Dalai Bama... the people are seeing the joke you are.

    August 5, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  19. EC

    It's TRULY ironic that our current President gets PROTESTED every where he goes globally, and here in the US, he has the LOWEST rating of any President.

    Yet you have a Presidential Candidate who drew 200,000 supporters, ALL waving the American Flag, and did I fail to mention Sen. Obama is NOT even the President yet? Doesn't that tell you something. BUSH/CHENEY have done nothing but disgraced our country globally with their greed and political blunders. It's NO wonder he's greeted by protestors everywhere he goes. He's earned it.

    August 5, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  20. Roofin Reality, Houston, Tx.

    So, folks, do you want a President who is a "celebrity" where his status is received as someone you want to help and be around? OR, do you want your president heckled and protested against?

    Obama is that first guy, McCain is that second guy.

    We will be revered, respected and helped again by playing to the world.
    Or, if you want to go it alone, then vote for McCain and be prepared to become isolationists.

    August 5, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  21. Robert Greensboro

    John,,Tanke a good look at what the "Einsteins" thinking for themselves (suuposedly) got when they voted for Bush/Cheney – This country is the most hated / laughed at / shameful country on earth becuase of Bush the idiots who voted for him. I hope they all go bankrupt and starve to death

    August 5, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  22. Enlightened Voter

    Hey pj4521 – I agree wholeheartedly and the same would happen with mcsurge too. We need to be respected and liked around the world and Obama will make that happen.

    August 5, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  23. rightytighty

    26 million Iraqi's are free to protest today too..., well worth enduring the progressive hate spewed forth from self-absorbed ignoramuses.

    By the way.., what is happening in Iraq? And why is the progressively liberal media suddenly silence on abondening our new democratic ally in the Middle East??

    August 5, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  24. Roofin Reality, Houston, Tx.

    John, from 12:03,
    I agree that he's staunch in his belief. BUT, his "decider" personality pushed us into a war we had no business going into. If for no other reason than the fact that we hadn't finished fighting the guy who did throw the first punch. And that "guy", Afghanistan, is still punching at us.
    Then, there was a report yesterday that the Bush administration was pushing hard a week or two after 9/11 to show that Iraq or Al-Qaeda was behind the antrhax scare. Then, not getting anywyere with that, pushing towards a quick resolution.

    Oh, and the signing statements? How many have there been now?

    And, what about all of the subpoenas for people in his administration? Scooter Libby, Alphonso Jackson, the Justice Dept under Albert Gonzalez and the partisanship in terms of hiring and firing?
    Speaking of this last one, I would think any fiscal conservative has to be irritated beyond belief that there have been a number of 9/11 cases that have fallen down under a poor prosecution team. So, we wasted time and money, and some bad people have gone free.

    Other than that, yep, President Bush has been good for this country.
    Well, except for those gas prices that have gone from $1.40 to $4.00 in 7 years and 7 months under his guidance. And, one last thing, the stock market, while having many peaks and valleys, has only gone from 10,800 to 11,300 in that time frame. Any other CEO would have been fired for such a paltry performance.

    August 5, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  25. M. Winners, Mesa, AZ

    Hey CNN – Why did you cut off comments on the Kerry story line? What are you, a bunch of McLame stoolies or simply girly men who are afraid to see what people really think of McLame?

    August 5, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
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