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. kheard

    The only one not seeing clearly is you. It amazes me how your response is opposite of how most people, including the world, view our current president, yet you believe Bush is a "Good President".
    He has caused over 4100 American lives in a war that should have never been waged, yet prances around as if life is wonderful.
    The both of you should be deported to the Middle East to fight your own imaginary battles. Your selfish attitude is so typical of Republican surrogates, and I for one, on January 21, will say Good Riddance to all of you and your Holier than Thou attitudes.

    August 5, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  2. Herman in LA

    CNN why are my posts all reading your comment is awaiting moderation. Why are you censoring my post I thought there was such a thing as the freedom of speech.

    August 5, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  3. Frank

    Why is it not reported what these protesters are actually protesting?We can thank the Bush administration for the breakthrough with North Korea destroying a nuclear reactor! He should be getting a hero's welcome! Bush is absolutely correct in going to the Olympics in China and recognizing that we do indeed respect the 'people'. Again, it is the government that is a problem.

    August 5, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  4. republican




    August 5, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  5. BlueDog Dem

    If you truly believe you and our country are better off now than we were 8 years haven't been paying attention.

    August 5, 2008 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  6. Fay Tx

    Open Your 3rd Eye August 5th, 2008 11:41 am ET
    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 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  7. Independent-woman-4-Obama

    Bush has completely destroyed the image of our Nation! His arrogant behavior, his "I am right"....... his believe that "God appointed him" ........his going to war with a nation that had not attack us (for the OIL) has made the USA a pariah in the world.



    August 5, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Oh my, now I am defending Bush.

    Bush is not to blame for the US beef hoopla in Korea. The protesters took advantage of the limelight to make the Korean government look bad, but they took out Bush at the same time.

    Poor George.

    August 5, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  9. Chris

    I neither like nor dislike Bush. He's an okay president, certainly not the worst or best. But there is one thing for certain, the media hates this guy so much that they've brainwashed American's and people all over the world into hating him and using him as a scapegoat.
    All this nonsense about Bush and Cheney getting us into Iraq and lieing about the reasons is a load of BS. Congress voted on it/ approved it AND!! sided with the president. Do you think Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, and Obama were against it then??I'm sorry but if you think the innocent enlightened Obama is the answer to all answers your sadly mistaken.
    Stop drinking the coolaid, he's a BIG SOCIALIST!! He's already talking about reparations for ancestors of slaves, increasing taxes on wealthy people (exactly who is wealthy under his definition is yet to be defined, don't be suprised if it's folks who make 60,000 and up), and increasing taxes on oil companies so they in turn will charge you more.
    Thats what the Euros are so thrilled about. Come-on people wake up, you want to live like Canadians were anyone who works hard and makes good money gets taxed into oblivion, have to wait for days to get surgery at one of there brilliantly run Nationalized hospitals, just go north of the border.
    McCain 08

    August 5, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  10. norml

    wait until you see the rep.nat. conv.,in a month!

    August 5, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  11. al in memphis

    What type of idots did this president surround himself with such that he is dislike both home and aboard. It seems his administration took on more Cheney personality and less Colin Powell. Good leaders listen and know who to listen too.

    August 5, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  12. norml

    obama could draw a 200,000 crowd there,and they would be waving american flags.

    August 5, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  13. McCain:SmallWeakCowardlyManOffersMoreOfTheSame TearsOthersDownToBuildHimselfUp

    This idiot doesn't have to travel abroad to get protesters. He can have the experience right here at home.

    August 5, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  14. Tired of W, OH

    This is how our country is greeted throughout the world under republican rule. McCain will not change this perception. He's part of the Bush legacy and the decision to go into Iraq that has destroyed America's image in the world.

    Yet the GOP makes fun of Obama because he is well received and respected throughout the world. They are just clueless and have zero credibility on foreign policy.

    If you want America to be respected in the world again, vote Obama.
    If you want America to continue to be hated for 4 more years, vote McBush.

    August 5, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  15. Kathryn Irby - Metairie, LA

    It's obvious why Bush is traveling, yet again, around the world! To try to boost his stupid legacy! Sorry Bush, too little, too late!

    August 5, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  16. arc, Lugano CH

    GWB and the 'values' voters of 2004 are responsible for the hatred felt towards the United States of America not only in Korea but from the rest of the world. At the very least, it will take a generation to undo the damage inflicted by the Bush Administration. It’s a pathetic reflection on some Hillary supporters who cast a vote in contradiction of their candidate’s policies and a continuation of the status quo for the sake of gaining a trivial sense of empowerment and acknowledgment of their own deep seeded bitterness and bigotry.

    August 5, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  17. bill for barack

    I wish I could add my voice to theirs.

    August 5, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  18. Chris, Middletown, CT

    I agree – they should protest – and we need to pull our troops out of Korea today – and let the South Koreans stand on their own....wait?? are you saying they need us..and should be grateful? shut the eff up South Koreans,,,,stand on your own.....since you can' it

    August 5, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  19. angie - dallas -28

    And here we are in America with SOME repugnant people who WANT to elect someone who will follow all Bush’s failed policies, and continue the hatred the world has towards us

    NOT ANYMORE! Vote Obama 08!

    August 5, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  20. tigerakabj

    To the poster Frank August 5th, 2008 12:18 pm ET

    We can thank the Bush administration for the breakthrough with North Korea destroying a nuclear reactor!

    Yeah, after Obama has been calling to do that for over 2 years now. North Korea was one of the countries Bush called the "axis of evil."
    Now Bush is even talking to Iran, something Obama has also called to do for over 1.5 years now.

    Even if Bush tries to clean up his act these last few months, it won't change the fact that his administration will be remembered as the most hated, corrupt, arrogant, murderous, divisive, incompetent, and secretive administrations in the history of the U.S. Subsequent war crime tribunals and other trials will solidify that.

    Obama/Sebelius 2008/2012.

    August 5, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  21. Independent NYC

    He's use to protester; hell if a little girl had sense to run from him the rest of us should have done the same.

    To late now.

    Out of the mouths of babes

    August 5, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  22. FL4Obama

    Bush gets protested for his misguided policies when he travels, while Obama gets a warm reception at home and abroad. Who would you rather have in office? Someone who will continue the Bush policies or someone offering an inspiring new direction.

    I'll take Obama's Reagan-style appeal and diplomatic approach any day.

    August 5, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  23. Joseph, Los Angeles

    I'm telling you, Senator Obama will better our relations around the world. McCain will get the same protesters everywhere he goes if he is elected. McCain and Bush are the same... and the world knows it.

    August 5, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  24. Mike

    Everywhere Bush goes turns to crap.

    Wake me in January when Obama is taking the oath, please.

    August 5, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  25. gc

    He makes me so proud to be an American.

    August 5, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
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