(SEOUL, South Korea) -- South Korea’s parliament ratified a free-trade agreement with the United States on Tuesday amid shouting and brawling by some members opposing the pact.
One opposition lawmaker threw a tear gas canister at the speaker’s podium, forcing hundreds to evacuate before resuming.
The long-delayed and controversial deal passed 151-7, with most opposition members absent. The ruling Grand National Party (GNP) had called a surprise parliamentary session in order to push it through, taking advantage of its majority status.
Kim Sun-Dong, a member of the minority Democratic Labor Party who set off the canister, repeatedly shouted “No to FTA (Free Trade Agreement)!” and “GNP, aren’t you afraid of history and the people,” as security guards wrestled him out of the floor. Legislators coughed and wiped tears as they rammed the free-trade deal through.
The deal is expected to boost South Korean exports of automobile-related parts, electronics and textiles, according to economists. But agriculture, fisheries and chemicals are among the industries facing future disadvantage.
It is the biggest U.S. trade pact since the 1994 North America Free Trade Agreement and was approved by the U.S. Congress last month.
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