Daily Archives: May 17, 2008

The Current President of South Korea is a Real Friend of the US

I doubt that many Americans even know the name of the current President of South Korea.  His name is Lee Myung-bak (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Myung-bak).  Furthermore, I think even less Americans realize President Lee Myung-bak is talking all sorts of domestic flax in order to strengthen the relationship between South Korea and the US.  The opposition party has managed a propaganda campaign filled with half truths, innuendos and out right lies to continue the ban of US beef in South Korea due to supposed mad cow disease.  This in turn could affect the proposed FTA between South Korea and the US which is a win-win for both sides.  I had a talk with my Korean students over lunch yesterday and some of the stuff being propagated in the Korean media, not the English version, is pretty incredible.Did you know that? 1) Americans actually eat Australian beef because we are scared of American beef?  A visit to any supermarket in the US will quickly dispell this lie.2) Viruses in American beef will crawl to other beef on display such as Korean and Australian beef and infect that beef as well?  Viruses are particularily weak in this regards or we would all have AIDS.3) Korean are genetically 95% more likely to get mad cow disease than any other group?  Koreans are not a race and given that they are at the cross roads between China and Japan probably are more genetically diverse than many other Asian groups.4) The government plans to feed US beef to Korean children and soldiers in order to save money and doesn’t care if they get mad cow disease?  Well this last one may or may not be true and the answer is to make a very small regulation that fixes this “problem” rather than banning US beef altogether.

 

My students are pretty astute in general and the fact that they have fallen for such heavy handed propaganda saddens me greatly.  I tried to deal with these ridicolous claims one by one but I am sorry to report I think I failed.  You cannot combat hundreds of years of xenophobia over a single lunch.  I have been reading a great deal of Korean history lately and the meme of “foreign contamination” is deeply ingrained in Korean culture.

 

The fact is that most Koreans do want US beef on the Korean market(http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2008/05/116_24257.html).  I tried to point out that if an individual Korean had concerns about US beef then they should exercise their right as a consumer and not eat US beef.  The students countered that the crawling mad cow virus would contaminate the beef next to it!  Against such lies what chance does the truth have?

 

The opposition is using every dirty xenophobic trick to derail beef sales and the FTA deal and ultimately the relationship between South Korea and the US.  President Lee Myung-bak has paid a heavy domestic price for his actions and his approval ratings have plummeted.  The US has to be very clever and adroit in the handling of this situation or ultimately Anti-American leftists in South Korea are the ultimate winners.