Thursday, June 5, 2008

Protest or family fun?

I found the photo to the left on website of The Hankyoreh, an independent Korean newspaper. Shots like this only confirm my opinion that the recent vigils and protests in opposition of the U.S. beef import deal have become less and less about U.S. beef, and more about the thrill of complaining . . . about something, anything. Sure, many Koreans are upset, and rightfully so, that the government is acting more like a dictatorship than a democracy. The U.S. beef import deal did come up suddenly and it sure did look like Lee Myung-bak was bowing at the feet of U.S. interests. But as the protests get bigger, longer, and more vocal, the arguments against U.S. beef aren't getting any more convincing. Students are relishing the boycott of classes to protest issues many of them don't understand. Photos from rallies show kids thrilled to be playing with fire. Meanwhile, online scaremongering and baseless rumors about the safety of U.S. beef are inticing more people to jump on the bandwagon every day. I believe Koreans should be concerned about their health and absolutly should expect their government to serve in their best interests (and I really don't care if anyone eats U.S. beef), but the fad vigils aren't projecting an image of a well-informed public.


MIMI said...

Hello! I was researching for foreign people's opinion about the U.S beef issue.
I think the protestors are NOT enjoying themselves to particitate in the candlelit vigils. In the picture, you might think that way but most of the protests who are mostly university students and white-collor workers are spending their time to exercise their rights against the government. Do you think that they are so free that they would like killing time?
And the demonstration is becoming more aggressive and searious so many people have got injured. The police decided to use water cannons to control the protestors. So I'd like you not to misunderstand about it. Of course, there are some who are in demo to enjoy campaigning but it's only few of them.
The point is "Anti-government" not "anti-american beef"

Peter said...

Interesting insights provided - definitely do think that the protests concerning U.S. beef imports stems from more of a protectionist mentality as opposed to the welfare/safety of the general public.

Given the duration of the ban, domestic producers likely have enjoyed a fiscal boon and are loathe to relinquish it, thereby positioning the matter as a financially-driven exercise. Appealing to a 'home'-first sentiment looks to have stoked xenophobic tendencies (which are usually inherent in all populations despite public/official rhetoric).

An ill-informed public comes as no surprise though - soundbites tend to dominate the general psyche of a populace, consumed by declarations full of bluster and brimming with style, but lacking in any discernible substance.