Thousands of people carrying anti-globalization placards demonstrated in central Seoul on Sunday against a meeting of Pacific Rim leaders set to promote trade liberalization this week.
More than 18,000 protesters near the U.S. Embassy also denounced a visit by U.S. President W. Bush, who is one of 21 leaders due to attend the two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit set to open Friday in the southern city of Busan.
Late last year, South Korea agreed with the United States and eight other rice-exporting countries to nearly double rice imports by 2014. Parliamentary approval for the plan has been delayed due to protests by farmers, who fear cheaper rice from China and the United States will undercut the market. Protest organizers plan mass rallies around the APEC summit to criticize Bush's policies and globalization at the expense of local markets.
Security is tight in Busan and police aim to keep rallies far from the venues where leaders, including Chinese President Hu Jintao, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, will meet, AP reports.