Some 15,000 people participated in the May Day demonstration in Seoul, the capital of South Korea.
A new conservative government is attempting to implement neoliberal reforms across public services – including education, health care and public utilities – and across the labour market.
But what has angered people most is the opening of the domestic market to the US meat industry, regardless of constant warnings about the danger of importing BSE, “mad cow disease”.
The new government's collapse in popularity has no parallel in South Korean history. Just two months after its election, public support has fallen to 35 percent.
So the mood on the May Day rally was very militant. Bystanders cheered the march, a very rare occurrence, which shows people's anger at the government.
There have already been two further demonstrations since May Day.
The first was of civil servants protesting against reforms in the pension system.
The second was a huge mobilisation of more than 30,000 ordinary people – especially high school and college students – against the importing of meat from the US.
An internet petition for the impeachment of the new conservative president has got 1.2 million signatures in the space of a week.
The hope now is that this important but unorganised movement can connect with organised trade unionists.
For more reports on May Day around the world go to » Workers mark May Day with mass protests around the globe