President Lee Myung-bak confronted the biggest challenge to his young and increasingly unpopular administration Tuesday as tens of thousands of demonstrators filled central Seoul to protest his agreement to resume suspended imports of American beef and to denounce a broad range of other government policies.
The country’s entire cabinet offered to resign as a way to help Mr. Lee find a way out of the crisis. It was unclear if he would accept the resignations.
Mr. Lee’s 107-day-old government has been increasingly beset by fears that his agreement to reopen markets to American beef could expose the public to mad cow disease.
For the past 40 days, central Seoul has been rocked by demonstrations , which began as rallies by hundreds of teenage students, singing, dancing and holding candles to protest the importing of American beef. They have now evolved into a protest against government policies on education, health care and consumer prices.