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South Korea, FTAs and word association

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Consider these words: “partisan government, teargas, and anger over income inequality.”

To the average American, those eight words might conjure up images of the U.S. Congress, Occupy Wall Street and its sister groups, along with the red can-wielding UC-Davis cop calmly giving students a face-full.  

Well, following an incredible scene on Tuesday – including tear gas sprayed in the National Assembly chamber -- those in South Korea certainly have their own spin on the word association.  

No shrinking violets, in the past, rowdy South Korean politicians have set up barricades to impede legislation or resorted to fisticuffs with the opposition.

This time, triggered by a vote on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) recently passed by Congress (and excouraged by U.S. agricultural interests), South Korean President Lee Myungbak’s opposition was furious at several parliamentary maneuvers to pass the trade deal. A surprise vote by supporters of the FTA brought the situation to a head.

Unable to stop the vote through normal means, an opposition legislator figured he’d see if detonating a teargas canister beside the podium would scuttle the proceedings.

It didn’t.

As news cameras rolled (forward to the 25 second mark) and a white cloud dissipated through the chamber, sneezing, choking legislators with eyes streaming tears were still able to fight through the chaos and approve the FTA in a 151 to 7 vote.

For more, see here, here and here.

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