S Korea's Lee 'sorry' over beef row

President apologises in TV address for ignoring public concerns over US beef.

    The past month has seen escalating protests against the South Korean president [GALLO/GETTY]

    "I and my government will acutely reflect on this," he said.

    "I and my government will acutely reflect on this"

    Lee Myung-bak,
    South Korean president

    With the global economy slowing, Lee said he had acted in a hurry and saw the free-trade agreement as a "shortcut" to fulfil his election promise to boost the South's economy.

    He said he also saw the move to resume beef imports as part of a broader effort to improve previously strained relations with the US, citing the nuclear threat from neighbouring North Korea.

    Anger over the beef deal has triggered a series of street protests over the last month with growing calls for Lee to resign.

    The issue has also become a lightening rod for more widespread opposition to Lee, who won a record-breaking landslide in presidential elections last December.

    Since taking office earlier this year however, Lee's popularity ratings have plummeted, registering at about 20 per cent in recent days.

    Last week South Korea's entire cabinet offered to resign, in an effort to ease some of the pressure.

    In his speech on Thursday Lee announced that he would reshuffle his cabinet and top advisors, but gave no details.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    Meet the deported nurse aiding asylum seekers at US-Mexico border

    Meet the deported nurse helping refugees at the border

    Francisco 'Panchito' Olachea drives a beat-up ambulance around Nogales, taking care of those trying to get to the US.

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    How a homegrown burger joint pioneered a food revolution and decades later gave a young, politicised class its identity.

    'We will cut your throats': The anatomy of Greece's lynch mobs

    The brutality of Greece's racist lynch mobs

    With anti-migrant violence hitting a fever pitch, victims ask why Greek authorities have carried out so few arrests.