South Korea: Why Protest Against American Beef?

Korea Beat translated a local report interviewing Korean students on the reason for their protest against the importation of American beef.


  • cliche

    Dear jin, sonagi, karl and ither readers

    It’s interesting to read different opinions and I almost feel like it’s a political POV demonstration than import issue. I have feeble opinions on USFK or North Korea or Law and Order and Freedom and Democracy, but I don’t think that these issues concerning protest should be blurred and rendered into other directions, so I gathered the courage to join your discussion.

    Dear Sonagi :
    I think Jin’s trying to say about media control which is somehow very funny indeed. If you are able to read korean, just look around news section of or other major portals. They show a comic figure – it’s quite enjoyable indeed. Two days ago I saw titles such as “Protest participants violates streets” from major press “Cho-Jung-Dong” and Hankyoreh & Ohmynew said about violent reaction of police force at the same day. If you have some sense of humor, it can be really a good joke. (Just forgot to mention that the tree major papers are very, very powerful compare to others !)

    About the law and order, well, why not. But in my years of experience (yes, me too I have lived for some time) I have witnessed that the balance between the weak and the strong should be regarded, too. I personally sympathize with the weak, hopeless romantic indeed. Here I’m not exactly talking about emotion but about moral. Btw, I was not at the scene – I have internet access and I read, A LOT. I try to follow present situation from various sources, major to alternative. I try to be objective. Thus, I agree with you for “emotional” issue.

    Dear Karl :

    It’s just so strange to hear about north korean. I personally had no idea that north korea had something to do with present protest. Why, perhaps. Though it seems to me almost improbable to be able to connect the idea. Maybe it’s because I was luckly born in other place than north korea. Thank you americans ! Just curiousity – do you remember it was France that “helped” in American Independence War? They kicked off english so you now an american citizen instead of some english colony. You should never forget it, for your McDonald freedom from England was gained by French. Too bad they saved, do you think?

    I admire United States of America and especially Americans. I’m serious. I just can’t help loving them, because you have produced brilliant writers such as Thoreau, Robert Lowell and Kurt Vonnegut. Oh, and Theodore Sturgeon. He said : “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

    Ok, back to the issue. I mean, freedom includes you to watch TV and play WOW and enjoy a good glass of beer as sensible person (o,k, I borrowed this quote from Robert Walser, btw he’s just so great too, pity he’s a swiss) – but there is something more.

    I seriously suggest you to read, once again perhaps, Civil Disobedience by Thoreau. (Thx sonagi for mentioning it!) It’s an American classic and for me it’s a human classic.

    Dear jin :
    Be easy. There are lot of thing needs time, energy and cool-ness. Being emotional is very touching but it does not help you to sleep. I think you would need a lot of energy.

  • I just know korean so insecure to rich country,so in thier school lesson,they always have,anti to,i MEAN, ANTI JAPAN,ANTI AMERICAN,ANTI etc.coz they cant accept thier pathetic history,ha ha ha

  • jin

    Thank you very much, cliche.

    I really appreciate your message..

    I projected emotional in some lines, yes.

    but I just want you to guys know that it’s more media control or import of american products…… please. it’s much more than that.

    Anyways, it’s over now.

    The government’s still enforcing the policy to import beef – without a proper limit to that.

    I am just too devastated now.. so

    thank you guys, all, for your comments.


  • […] wrote a clear and concise answer to that question. The original comment can be found here. South Koreans’ protest against the government: it’s much more than just about the American […]

  • Jee

    Dear Jin,
    Hope you do not feel so bad. Reading your writing, I believe there were many people must be impressed by your young passion. Because there is a person like you, the society can move forwards, looking around and thinking things in different view.

    However, please remember that everything needs process and takes time for changes. things are not happening in a second. You said what you were thinking and there were people who were listening to you… Would you be able to feel a little bit better with it at the moment? It might be very stupid example though, there are many places where people cannot make their voice properly..think about it.

    Wish you and your friends be well. go out and breathe some fresh air somewhere.

    take care.

  • jin

    Dear Jee

    Thank you so much for your message. I feel energized this morning, by your comment, although I am physically very, very tired.

    I agree with you. And, there are just far too many places in this world where people cannot have a voice, let alone claim their human rights.
    South Korea, too, has suffered dictatorship; and after so many people’s sacrifice, we have made it this far.
    Regardless of where it may be, I would soon join the movement to make this world better place to live in.

    I met a couple from England yesterday, and they said: it all happened in our country! I really really appreciate their concern and support, and most of all, understanding the gravity of these issues.

    My “(quite) young” passion sends many thanks to you, Jee!

    And all of you!

    muah, take care


  • Dave

    I’m an American living in South Korea. I love Korea and I am grateful for the opportunity to live here and teach students I really appreciate.

    However, this beef controversy is truly bizarre. The changes of contracting the CJD from American beef is infintesmal . Peta radicals and xenophobics will post a lot of internet garbage with baseless claims of dangers.

    However, let’s look at the facts. Every day 300 million Americans eat American (not Australian, that is a fricking INTERNET LIE) beef. No one has ANY idea how old the beef is. They buy it in the supermarket the same way Koreans buy pork in Korean supermarkets; they assume it’s safe.

    And it generally is. NO AMERICAN has ever died from mad cow disease. And we eat beef every day. And I repeat, there are 300 million of us.

    And don’t give me this “ten year incubation” argument. Mad cow first appeared in the 90s. Millions would be dropping dead by now if they were infected.

    Now, I don’t care if Koreans ban the beef. Beef has saturated fat which can lead to heart disease, colon cancer, and other diseases.

    However, it’s truly scary how they can whipped up into a frenzy over a total non-issue. What worries me is they could get agitated over a more important issue; I mean this is group think at a near totalitarian level. There is no rational thought.

    I live in a neighborhood with no sidewalks where schoolchildren are forced to walk home in the middle of the street. I personally know of two who’ve been hit by cars; one was killed.

    If Koreans are so worried about health risks, why not put in some frickin sidewalks in my neighborhood.

    That would save lives. Worrying about mad cow is just wasted, frenetic energy that could be put to good use elsewhere.

  • Kim

    Koreans are funny; they eat all 7 SRM’s and worry about mad cow disease??

  • jin


    I hope you read what I wrote more thoroughly. I came back home 4 a.m. from what you refer to as “bizarre” protest.

    Honestly, at the moment, I am just too tired to write it all over again but I do hope you understand what it means – O.K, besides all this mad cow disease panic – to privatize those state-owned firms, and therefore, the most basic necessities of our life. Water, and Electricity.

    And if you could, please visit these (non-Korean) websites:

    Such huge backlash against the U.S beef had been seen in Europe before.

    And, I believe you would understand how exasperating it must be to have a criminal as the president of your country, and, about other privatization issues, how exploitative it could be to privatize all those state-owned firms.

    We don’t want to see this country turning into more blatant Corporate Korea.

  • Park

    95% of beef consumed in the US is less than 30 months.
    If Korea goverment allowed to import beef of even same quality, Koreans wouldn’t protest like this because many people want to eat more delicious and cheaper beef.

    The point of the protest is to call for valid negotiation to Korean goverment that is kissing the US goverment’s ass.
    Even the US goverment forced Koreans gov. to import their beef, It can’t be an excuse. Koreans gov. should do their best and get reasonable negotiation because each goverment speak for their people.

    And Dave,
    I can’t agree with your opinion about health risk and sidewalks.
    As you insisted, if Americans are worried about toyes made in China for their kids, why not slove gun or drug problems first in schools?

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