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. Donna from Colorado Springs

    George Bush should be protested....everywhere he goes. He dearly wants something of substance to come out of his time in office. Unfortunately, the future Bush library will go down as the presidential library of the most inept,arrogant and worse president this country has ever had to endure. His arrogant cowboy ways have angered almost every country on the planet, and he can't figure out why he is do disliked. Good riddance cowboy!

    August 5, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  2. Lee

    You think he doesn't care that he's hated? What do you want him to do, break down crying? Come on.

    August 5, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  3. Ted

    We need Obama, we need to be proud to be American wherever we go!

    August 5, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  4. Zack, TX

    I wish they would kick his butt. He makes me sick, stay over there, don't come home–you lying fleabag.

    America is the greatest, inspite of Bush.

    Just like Barbara Bush to produce an idiot son.


    August 5, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  5. Wendy

    Dear John,

    Tell that to the 4,000 plus families who lost a loved one. You're just as daft as Bush is.

    August 5, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  6. Keep Him Over There

    The face the world (including America) loves to hate.

    Way to go genius–don't forget to duck.

    Hey, brainless stay over there, we don't want you back.

    August 5, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  7. Paul from Texas

    This just shows that with this administration we have lost respect all over the World. It shows this Country needs change and fast or we will be in isolation for a long time like it or not.

    August 5, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  8. Peggy - TX

    He did not have to go to Korea to find people who truly hate him. He could find a huge number right here near his ranch in Texas. A new High Way to nowhere was recently built and named after Pres. Ragan a good indication that even the local Republicans would like to forget this last 7 years.

    August 5, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  9. Franky

    What a shame. Our foreign policy is not as good as I thought and the President gets the welcome every time he's abroad. You should be ashame if you don't realize what's going on...

    August 5, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  10. Wisest one of All

    People protest George The Chimp Bush. No surprise on that one!

    Really though people should not compare Bush to a chimp.

    Chimps are FAR LESS violent and FAR MORE intelligent! Proven fact!

    August 5, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  11. Lisa M

    Does anybody like him?

    Besides those that got contracts out of the Iraq war, bailed out with MY money, etc.

    August 5, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  12. afrahx2

    There goes burning of American flags due to 7 years of poor leadership and bad foreign policies by McCain's mentor. It was so refreshing to see that sea of USA flags being waved in Germany. We are waiting for the world to embrace America once again. Vote wisely – Vote Obama.

    August 5, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. Hiwot

    If we could get a chance and are not surpressed by Bush supported government, we would have shown you our disappointment with you government turning out in millions. Unless you take measure and elect a president with a better policy, I tell you people, you are not better than us. and have to stop preaching us about Democracy – because we won't to lose our poor people in the name of democracy.

    August 5, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  14. jim sasa

    wait till obama goes to africa,those africans will not sleep!!! he is loved there.

    August 5, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  15. Who 2 Vote 4???

    How embarrasing, but isn't this what the McCain supporters wanted? Heaven forbid, our leaders, like Senator Obama, are respected overseas!


    August 5, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  16. Bill Charlotte, NC

    This should make all the Pubs happy since they hated to see 200,000 cheering people waving American flags in Germany.

    August 5, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  17. MMN-Milwaukee WI

    BushMcCainalitis: This is a common illness that inflicts a lot of the general public and they don’t even know it. Symptoms include lack of knowledge on any policy issues and single track mindedness(bomb bomb bomb or drill drill drill you get it). This symptom is very evident in Bush and McCain who both suffer from this disease hence the name of the ailment. Common carriers of this disease include: VP Cheney, neocons, and other hardliners from the Right Wing. There is a simple cure for this illness at ZERO cost to you; you need the money for gas. Just open your mind to new ideas and all will be well, best way to avoid recurrence is remind yourself daily that there are many solutions to a given problem also avoid being pandered to by politicians and get your facts but not from Rush Limbaugh’s of this USA.

    August 5, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  18. ROC

    Who cares about Korean protesters, they were protesting bush, they were just protesting USA, because they think we are evil, even though their economy is dependent on us. Japan and USA should break off all trade ties from Korean until they respect the fact that our economies are intertwined, and that they (Korea) are not better then us, and that we are not piloting against them.

    August 5, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  19. Obama supporter: Bipartisan Intelligence in Gov't

    It's not just the heckling, but the views and feelings of the leaders and diplomats who will not be offering support to the same old, outdated foreign policy of McCain.

    Voters of McCain's mindset that Americans will be respected or followed are living in the post Bush world. These policies have destroyed America's reputation and greatly diminished the "power" it has.

    No wonder Ovbama was greeted so warmly by leaders when he visited...a rational, intelligent man with no ties to the destructive policies of the past.

    August 5, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  20. Jake

    My god,

    Take a look at John's comment!

    Who care's about a major discovery of endangered gorillias?!?

    We just found a rare member of the about to go extinct species known as the "Bush Supporter!"

    August 5, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  21. Brett

    Glad OUR president of USA is on this trip to show the support for USA players in China....... every president should do, since WE are the people, so we are vote him...

    Why dont Obama go? nah, nah.... must be his way as alway!!!! such as Obama took SO EGO to took trip to Middle east, europe and think himself as "the one" ... no no good!

    August 5, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  22. Nancy


    August 5, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  23. Mike in Houston

    Ms. D.

    Kennedy was greated by protestors when he travelled to Europe, as was all presidents.

    They only protest those who will not do their bidding. Obama is an idiot. No one bothers to protest an idiot.

    August 5, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  24. Proud American

    Vote for McCain and you can expect more of the same.

    August 5, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  25. JohnyC

    "He has caused over 4100 American lives in a war that should have never been waged, yet prances around as if life is wonderful."

    Funny how some idiots think that Bush is holding a gun to their head and forcing them to go to the middle east to fight. Last time I checked joining the armed forces meant "VOLUNTEERING" to go and serve your country. There is no draft that is causing these brave men and women to go to war. Our lives are filled with choices we all make from day to day. These brave soldiers chose to serve our country and defend our freedoms. It was their choice.

    August 5, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
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