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Korea’s got Beef with US Beef

07 May

Clair took me on a surprise trip to Gwangwhamun on Monday night and to see the famed ‘lanterns on the river’ that appear there every May leading up to Buddha’s birthday. Check out these pics:

And a huge one standing on the corner obscuring an outdoor public hip-hop show

Just before we were about to leave we got a phone call from the police asking us to move our car. We downed the takoyaki we were carrying and rushed over. I glazed over this controversy in a post last week, but it turns out that a lot of Koreans are quite worked up over the impending lift of the US beef ban. On the way in we had seen a bunch of protesters waving flags and yelling slogans about American beef and the corresponding downfall of Korean society it’s sure to cause.

In total, I guess there were enough people there to fill three buses, because when we got to the car there were three police buses sitting there, preparing to round up the protesters, and, I’m assuming, lock them up.

I’d missed out on a much larger protest late last week, which has since been deemed an illegal act, hence the arrests (I’m assuming) on Monday:

Yesterday there were a bunch of people in Sinchon Station gathering petitioners. The newspapers have been running cover stories about it. And today I saw a political cartoon in the Hankyoreh, which I wish I understood better:

A ghost story… Basically expressing the fear that America will send over second rate beef that its domestic consumers didn’t eat. The printing on the cow reads something to the effect of “Americans haven’t eat me for over 30 months”, which is part of the deal. Cuts from cattle 30 months old and younger are allowed first, but after US ups it’s safety regulations, they will accept beef from older calves.

Not too sure about the other two. Though there is a mention of mad cow disease (광우병).

Farmers are also worried about their revenues, but I doubt it’s going to effect them much at first. Korea can’t self-sustain its needs anyway, and if Korea wants a free trade agreement with the US then they’re going to have to buy some of George W’s beef. Suck it up already!

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