CHAN:
South Korean President Lee is apologizing for refusing to acknowledge a public outcry over his decision to reopen its market to U.S. beef.  Meanwhile, South Korean farmers and cattle raisers are rallying against U.S. beef imports. Here's more.

STORY:
Thousands of South Korean farmers and cattle raisers gathered in front of the National Assembly today to denounce U.S. beef imports, as the government decided to reopen its market to U.S. beef.

[Kim Jin-beum, Korean Rural Leaders' Central Association]:
"We urge that the beef deal which was settled by the the president without concern the farmers or people be cancelled. We want the government to rework the beef negotiation.”

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has faced criticism that he rushed into signing the deal to reopen its market to U.S. beef in time for his visit to the United States and meeting with President George W. Bush.

[Lee Myung-bak, South Korean President]:
"I humbly accept the proposition that we neglected to heed the will of the people. I feel apologetic to the people.”

Lee has seen his support rating drop to just above 20 percent while he first brushed aside public protest to the beef deal as politicking by liberals to incite fear. He was clearly caught by surprise as public anger mounted.

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