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20,000 protest ahead of G20 summit

Police have arrested four people who scuffled with riot police during anti-globalisation rallies ahead of this week's G20 summit in South Korea.

About 20,000 people attended a rally at a large plaza near Seoul City Hall on Sunday, four days before the Asian country hosts a two-day gathering of leaders from the G20 advanced and developing economies.

The rally was initially peaceful but some protesters scuffled with riot police who tried to prevent them from marching through nearby streets. Riot police fired pepper spray at some protesters at the front of the crowd, forcing them back.

Four men were arrested during the scuffle and were under investigation, a Seoul police officer said.

The protesters oppose globalisation and say the G20 is not focusing on creating jobs or protecting social programmes.

Labour activist Lee Chang-geun accused the G20 of failing to formulate meaningful measures to curb speculative financial capital and of pushing cuts in public spending on social welfare. Activists plan to stage another major rally to mark the start of the summit on Thursday, he added.

In Manila, at least seven Filipino activists who planned to join anti-globalisation rallies in Seoul said they were denied entry by South Korean immigration officials over the weekend and forced to return home.

Activists condemned the action during a protest in front of the South Korean Embassy in the Philippine capital. They posted a statement at the embassy's gate, saying their treatment showed "the undemocratic and anti-people nature of the G20".

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said he will look into the incident, but added South Korea has the right to allow or bar entry like any country. His spokesman, Herminio Coloma, said the government may consider filing a diplomatic protest after hearing from its diplomats.

South Korea's Justice Ministry said the block was based on a law that bans the entry of people who could undermine national interests and social order.

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