SEOUL — The massive protests against importation of U.S. beef aren’t meant to be anti-American — or anti-U.S. military — in nature, a spokesman for one of the leading civic groups said Wednesday.

But the U.S. "image isn’t very good among protesters," Lee Jae-hee of the Korean Progress Association told Stars and Stripes on Wednesday.

The protests have more to do with anger toward South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and his policies than they do with the United States, he said.

"We have no personal feeling against the American people and soldiers," Lee said.

The civic groups expect another 20,000 to 30,000 people Friday night at Seoul Square to protest the South Korean government’s free trade agreement with the United States. They expect up to 80,000 people over the weekend.

"[President Lee] is not listening to people; he is just listening to the U.S.," Lee said.

The protesters believe U.S. beef presents a danger of mad cow disease.

Importation was halted in 2003 when a Canadian cow imported into Washington state was slaughtered after testing positive for the disease.

Two more cows in the United States have since tested positive and were slaughtered, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Stars and Stripes reporter Hwang Hae-rym contributed to this report.

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