Saturday, 31 March 2007

KORUS FTA at the Hyatt in Seoul

The KORUS FTA talks went down to the wire on Saturday morning, skipped over it, and negotiators set another deadline that will expire in the early hours of Monday local time. One unfortunate consequence for guests of the Hyatt Hotel in Namsan is that their temporary home away from home would resemble an armed camp for another couple of days.

In reality though, apart from the inconvenience of passing through metal detectors when entering the hotel, and a lobby full of bored journalists, it probably isn't so much a hardship as an adventure.

The authorities were taking no chances that negotiators, or paying guests for that matter, would be disturbed by anti-FTA protesters. Small groups of police were stationed on access roads up to more than a kilometer from the hotel.
But if all you were looking for was a quiet weekend, or an international ATM as one unfortunate member of the USFK and his family discovered, the Hyatt probably wasn't the place to head for.

These emergency flares were discovered in the trunk of the soldier's car during the routine search of all vehicles entering the hotel. The efforts of the bemused serviceman to explain their purpose to uncomprehending officials provided a little light relief to what was an uneventful afternoon.

At the time of this posting, there is perhaps a little over 24 hours left for the negotiators to strike a deal.

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