SEOUL, June 10 (UPI) -- Thousands of South Koreans demonstrated in Seoul Tuesday in protests that have expanded beyond the original issue of U.S. beef imports.
While students, nuns and entire families hit the streets, the entire cabinet of President Lee Myung-bak offered to resign over the unpopular decision to allow U.S. beef into the country, The New York Times reported.
Police said about 60,000 people turned out Tuesday, while organizers claimed a crowd of 400,000. They chanted "Lee Myung Bak, out!" under banners that read "Judgment day for Lee Myung Bak" and "Renegotiate the beef deal." Demonstrators criticized Lee's policies on healthcare and education and protested high prices.
Agriculture Minister Chun Won-chun, who tried to apologize to protesters for his part in the beef decision, was forced to depart.
Prime Minister Han Seung-soo and the Cabinet took responsibility for the decision in April to lift unconditionally a ban on U.S. beef imports, imposed in 2003 following an outbreak of mad cow disease in the United States, Yonhap news agency reported.
The report, quoting sources, said Lee, whose popularity has been affected by the controversy, was expected to accept resignation offers selectively and replace ministers involved in the decision, including Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan and Finance Minister Kang Man-soo.