A recent wave of hysteria has swept
Cigarettes? Something like 30% to 50% of Korean males smoke. Those lead to cancer that kills thousands of Koreans every year.
North Korean nukes? Lil’ Kim is still dragging his feet on the nuclear disarmament that he promised months ago.
Defective Chinese products? After all, poisonous Chinese-made products sickened and killed people in Central America and house pets in America, among other horrors. And
Islamic terrorists? Just last year, a group of jihadists in
The answer is ‘none of the above’. You see, Koreans aren’t at all concerned about any of that. What really ticks them off is…imported beef. Specifically US-grown beef. Here’s the background to this bizarre story.
Way back in April 2008, newly elected South Korean president Lee Myung Bak visited President Bush at
What a difference eight weeks can make. What began as a small, seemingly safe gesture to placate an important foreign ally has now boiled over into a typhoon that threatens to swamp Lee’s tenuous hold on the ship of state. The so-called beef crisis has caused Lee’s entire cabinet to offer their collective resignation. Massive crowds are more-or-less permanently parked (along with an accompanying ‘beefed up’ force of riot police) in the middle of
But there is more to this mass movement than meets the eye. This concocted crisis is not just about mad cow disease in US beef, which has in fact killed no one. Even the World Health Organization (no friend of the
Emotions, hysterical nationalism, leftist opposition to the conservative President Lee, and more than a whiff of anti Americanism have frothed together in a toxic stew in Seoul and other Korean cities in recent weeks. If Koreans were truly worried about public health or living longer, they would be far better off, for instance, wearing seat belts or quitting smoking. But the popular Korean “anti US beef” movement is not about to let a few inconvenient facts get in its way.
The beef crisis has shown the world that, despite the incredible success of
Asian xenophobia also manifests itself in trade barriers which all but forbid substantial foreign investment or ownership within many Asian countries. For
Even after the ‘beef crisis’ fades from the headlines, the trade barriers--and a certain degree of hostility to foreigners--will remain here in