Whew! There is at least one legislative body more dysfunctional than the U.S. Congress.
An opponent of the U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement doused members of the ruling party with tear gas Tuesday, reports the Associated Press.
The chaos was touched off when members of the ruling Grand National Party forced their way onto the legislative floor for a surprise session to OK the deal with America.
During the disagreement, and amid loud shouting and shoving, one opposition member set off tear gas in the direction of lawmakers at the front of the room. Security officials escorted the opposition member out forcefully.
In video released by the AP, lawmakers could be seen coughing and wiping their eyes on the parliamentary floor in reaction to the chemicals.
Meanwhile, opponents of the free trade deal clashed outside with policemen who were gathered to maintain order, reports the wire service.
Less than an hour after the incident, South Korean lawmakers voted 151 to 7 in favor of ratifying the trade agreement, the largest such agreement for the U.S. since it signed onto the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, along with Mexico and Canada. Bilateral trade between the United States and South Korea amounted to about $90 billion last year.
This incident was not the first to involve violence in the South Korean legislature. According to the AP, rival parties have a history of resorting to violence over controversial policies.
In 2008, opponents of the U.S.-South Korea trade deal used a sledgehammer to try and force their way into a barricaded committee room in an attempt to interrupt a debate on the issue.
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