Seoul: A South Korean farmer angry at a new free trade agreement with the United States shot dead a neighbour after a drunken argument about the pact, police and news media said Wednesday.
Police said the 44-year-old beef breeder, identified only as Lee, also shot and injured two other people with an air rifle during the heated debate late Tuesday with his neighbours.
“One was killed on the spot with two others injured. Lee ran away right after the shooting,” a police officer told AFP by phone from Yecheon, about 250 kilometers (150 miles) southeast of Seoul.
“They were having a debate over the FTA (free trade agreement).”
He refused to elaborate. Yonhap news agency, citing unidentified police investigators, said Lee was a local farmers’ group leader critical of the pact and was angry at his neighbours who took different views.
Lee was drunk at the time, according to Yonhap.
Koreans use high-powered air rifles for hunting because there are strict curbs on regular firearms.
The trade pact has drawn strong protests from South Korean farmers and other workers who fear for their jobs in the wake of market-opening.
On Sunday in Seoul, a South Korea taxi-driver set himself on fire outside the venue where the deal was being negotiated and was in critical condition in hospital.
President Roh Moo-Hyun has called the agreement reached Monday a “stepping stone for another economic leap forward in the nation’s push to join the ranks of advanced countries.”
Under the deal, the United States and South Korea would scrap tariffs on thousands of items, with trade then expected to rise by billions of dollars a year.
But one study shows the deal would cost South Korean farmers 130,000 jobs and as much as two trillion won (Rs9,140 crore) in sales with the opening of the agricultural market.
In September 2003 a South Korean activist committed suicide by stabbing himself in the chest in Mexico in protest at a World Trade Organisation meeting about opening agricultural markets.