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S. Korean artists oppose talks with US for free trade deal


S. Korean artists oppose talks with U.S. for free trade deal

SEOUL, Dec. 1 (Yonhap) — Dozens of South Korean artists took to the streets Friday to oppose a free trade deal with the United States, adding their voice to protests just days before the trade talks were to resume.

Seoul was to open the fifth round of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with Washington at the Big Sky Resort in Montana on Monday to discuss removing tariffs and other trade barriers. In recent weeks, farmers and workers have staged mass rallies and started partial strikes nationwide protesting the negotiations.

"Korea has achieved dramatic development from the outside, but people’s lives have gotten worse, with nine million irregular workers, three million credit delinquents and a million jobless youth," poet Song Gyeong-dong said in a park in Insa-dong, the traditional art and tourist district in downtown Seoul.

The artists issued an "emergency statement" signed by 10 organizations of writers, filmmakers, musicians and painters that criticized the government for catering to "U.S. imperialism" and called for the end to the FTA talks. Movie personnel criticized the government’s movie policy, which has cut a mandatory quota for domestic movies by demand of Washington, which sought to increase the market share for films from major U.S. studios in South Korea.

"The government should immediately stop its pursuit of an FTA with the U.S. and restore the screen quota, the policy for which came in raw haste under the pressure of U.S. imperialism," they said in the joint statement.

Seoul and Washington kicked off the negotiations in June and have since made little progress in four previous rounds of talks. The last one was held on the Korean island of Jeju in late
October. They hope to seal the deal by early next year.

 source: Yonhap