The Hankyoreh | 3 April 2007
FTA protestor who immolated himself in serious condition
54-year-old taxi driver hospitalized with burns over 63 percent of body
A 54-year-old South Korean taxi driver, who set himself on fire on April 1 in protest of the Korean government’s moves to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with the U.S., still remains in serious condition, hospital officials said.
"Heo Se-ok was burned over 63 percent of his body, and is still in serious condition," said officials at a Seoul hospital.
Heo immolated himself on April 1 in front of a hotel where negotiators from Seoul and Washington were engaged in last-ditch efforts to finalize the trade talks. The deal was clinched around 1 p.m. the next day.
Heo seemed to be recovering slightly as he reportedly responded to remarks by Moon Sung-hyun, chairman of the Democratic Labor Party, who visited Heo in the hospital and told him, "Please survive and fight with us till the end." Moon, himself, has been protesting the FTA by staging a hunger strike.
The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, one of the nation’s largest labor umbrella organizations, issued a statement holding the government responsible for Heo’s taking of extreme measures to protest the situation.