About 1,500 students hurled some 200 firebombs at riot
police. Some burned effigies of South Korean President Kim
Young Sam and U.S. President Bill Clinton. Others yielded
steel pipes and attempted to hit police.
"Down with Kim Young Sam!" they chanted as the effigies
burned. The street in front of Hanyang University was awash
in a fiery reddish-orange glow.
Police, escorted by armored vehicles, responded by firing
volley after volley of tear gas. At least four students were
arrested, and witnesses reported numerous injuries -- many
the result from police beatings.
The Clinton effigies were an apparent sign of anti-American
sentiment common among militant students, who accuse
Washington of condoning South Korea's political oppression.
Meanwhile, strikers in the southern city of Ulsan, where
Hyundai has automobile plants, were cleaning the grounds and
preparing assembly lines for a return to work Monday.
Union leader appeals for calm
The clashes erupted despite a call earlier in the day by
Kwon Young-gil, fugitive head of the Confederation of Trade
Unions, to avoid fighting with police.
"Violence needs to be restrained," Kwon said at his hiding
place in Myongdong Cathedral, where he has taken refuge with
six other fugitive union leaders.
Nationwide strikes, and in some cases heated clashes with
police, have carried on since December 26, when lawmakers
secretly rammed the disputed labor law through Parliament.
Union leaders say the law makes it easier for employees to
fire workers and extend working hours.
Faced with waning support and pressure to compromise, Kwon on
Saturday announced a temporary halt to the strikes beginning
Monday. The daily strikes have been abandoned for one-day
walkouts every Wednesday until February 18. On that day,
strikes will resume if the law is not repealed, Kwon said.
International delegation arrives
Also Sunday, the first member of a team of 10 world labor
leaders arrived for an attempt to pressure the government
into scrapping the most inflammatory sections of the disputed
Vic Thorpe, head of the International Chemical Workers'
Federation, said the team would meet strike leaders at
Myongdong cathedral and follow up efforts of four union
colleagues who left last week after deportation threats.
Reuters contributed to this report.