We went home early today to avoid the onslaught of protesters in downtown Seoul who were protesting the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations.  Round two of the FTA negotiations is currently underway in Seoul (round one was last month in Washington, D.C.).  I took a risk and drove to and from work today.  It took about an hour to come home today, 30 minutes later than expected due to heavy traffic.  That, and I had to be extremely aggressive to make headway in the standstill.  Once I left downtown the traffic was mild.  I received my first honk in Korea for apparently driving badly.  Well, that’s a first!  Usually I am the one cursing and white-knuckling the steering wheel from bad Seoul drivers.
It could have been worse.  Mother Nature dampened the protests today by dumping bucketloads of rain.  She either:  1) Felt sympathy for me; or 2) Supports the Free Trade Agreement; because she poured rain down on Seoul all day long.  The anticipated 50,000+ protesters never materialized because of bad weather.  When I left today, the protest consisted of about 7,000 souls willing to brave bad weather and a threefold number of riot police.  The U.S. and Korea are going to need help getting this FTA done, so having Mother Nature as a supporter is a good ally indeed. 
I really have to wonder sometimes about what goes through the minds of Koreans.  When their neighbor to the North, with which the South is technically at war, launches test missiles, about 20 protesters materialize to protest against the launches.  Is an FTA really that much more provocative than lobbing missiles that it can draw 7,000 people on an utterly terrible day?

Books by MG EdwardsMG Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures and children’s books. A former U.S. diplomat, he served in South Korea, Paraguay, and Zambia before leaving the Foreign Service to write full time.

Edwards is author of six books. His memoir, Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, was finalist for the Book of the Year Award and the Global eBook Award. He has published four children’s picture books in the World Adventurers for Kids Series: Alexander the Salamander; Ellie the Elephant; Zoe the Zebra; and a collection featuring all three stories. His book Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories is an anthology of 15 short stories.

Edwards lives in Taipei, Taiwan with his family. He has also lived in Austria, Singapore and Thailand. For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or contact him by e-mail at me@mgedwards.com or on Twitter @m_g_edwards.

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