A South Korean lawmaker threw tear gas in the face of his opponents today in an attempt to stop the country's ruling party from ratifying a free trade agreement with the United States. The deal was later approved by the National Assembly, but not before Kim Seon-dong plunged the chamber into the chaos by setting off the gas canister on the floor.
The scuffling began after the country's ruling Grand National Party called a surprise vote to ratify the treaty, which the U.S. Congress approved earlier this year. It's the largest free-trade agreement signed by the Americans since NAFTA in 1994, but has been highly controversial in Korea, since many feel it is unfavorable to their own workers. A dispute arbitration clause also appears to favor American interests.
Members of the opposition party stormed the speaker's podium both in protest and in an attempt to stop the vote when Kim Seon-dong set off a tear gas canister he was carrying with him and threw it in his rivals' faces. Kim had to be forceably removed from the chamber by security.
This isn't the first time South Korean politics have gotten a little out of hand. Police used water cannons to keep protestors out of the Assembly last month and in 2008, opposition leaders used a sledgehammer to break into a committee room to stop debate on the same trade deal.
After order had been restored, the Assembly voted 151-7 in favor of the treaty, though most of those opposed abstained or were not present. More video below, via the AP.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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