Sunday, June 01, 2008

You want to roll Korean Protesters? Let’s roll

(Update below)
A few weeks back, I thought these protests against American beef imports would blow over and was just the same old groups (funded and organized by the North) doing all in its power to hurt a president that is not Kim Jong-ill’s best bud. I was apparently wrong, with the president’s standing in Korea plummeting, and with the public opinion increasingly siding with these morons in the streets, I personally fear for Korean society and its ability to engage in a rational debate on something as mundane as food imports.

More importantly, I think we should give the Korean left exactly what it wants. Let’s end the FTA and other beneficial trade programs with Korea. These vapid fools holding candlelight vigils (a disgrace in and of itself) will jump up and down like they just won the World Cup, but then reality will hit the rest of Korea.

For you see, Korean protester, trade is a two way street. Let’s forget for a moment that American beef is overwhelmingly safe (especially compared to some of the meat coming out of your country), and would be cheaper and allow your average consumer to buy more and eat better for less. You can put all of those facts behind you for the moment. Just think about all the cheap cell phones, cars, and electronics that America gets from Korea (with very low or no tariffs thanks to the dreaded FTA), and how those goods are the bedrock of the Korean economy. South Korea’s relative wealth did not come from protectionism, but it has surely come from liberalizing their economy and from trade with other nations.

So you won’t hold up your trade agreements with the US? Fine. We will not uphold ours, and you can sell your goods on your own shores. The only reason America has not retaliated in this way (as the Chinese have, and justifiably so), is because most people are not paying attention to that ranting and raving of your populace and some of its elected officials. But this is an election year, and American’s are not terribly thrilled about the benefits to our country through these trade agreements, and are just looking for a reason to be rid of them.

I recommend writing all your elected officials, and get them on board with “Operation Total Dick.” The only reason protests against Korea take on the character and size that they do is because everyone believes the American gravy train will continue unabated; America is the easiest target because there will be no consequence for the extreme and ridiculous actions taken by Korean protesters.

Let’s give Korea what it wants, and lets temporarily ban imports form Korea until they uphold their agreements.

UPDATE: And now, the idiot classes have succeeded in delaying the import of US beef. Most definitely time to write up an elected official.

11 comments:

Dandy said...

“Operation Total Dick.”

That, I like.

Peter Stanton said...

So wait, why does the United States care about the beef industry?

Let's get our priorities straight (and we can all be vegetarians too!).

Roland Dodds said...

I left my vegetarianism a long way back, but I have no problem with folks who live by such a lifestyle.

The US government should work to make sure the trade agreements we agreed upon with other nations uphold their end of the bargain. The Korean economy needs the US markets to keep its tech industry afloat, but your average Korean protester doesn’t grasp that the trade agreements in place that allow those goods to be sold easily in the US, require they do the same on a number of US goods.

At its bare minimum, our nation should make sure we don’t get a raw deal when it comes to our economic relations with other nations, and that is what the Korean populace is trying to give us now.

Anonymous said...

Same old Neocon shit. Why should Korea do anything it doesn’t want to do? Who are you to say it’s wrong?

Roland Dodds said...

I will state it again very clearly and very slowly for you to understand:

Korea doesn’t have to do a damn thing it doesn’t want to do. That being said, America doesn’t have to do a damn thing it doesn’t want to do. Korea needs American markets, and America just wants Korean markets. If the protesters think it best to toss out agreed upon trade agreements, then we have the right to do the same.

Freshviews said...

You are misunderstanding this situation completely, and some of your opinions about the FTA is also questionable.

First, The beef that's being sold in the US is different from what would be sold in Korea. It's a known fact that meat from cows that are 30 months old or older is not safe, because they have high potential of having Mad Cow Disease. So what does America do? The right thing, don't sell meat from old ones, but just young ones. Most beef in circulation in the US (92%+) are young and considered to be very safe.

Now, why are Koreans so mad? 2 things. First, the Korean president basically cut a deal with Bush that he will accept whatever beef the US gives them, including those that are older than 30 months. This is problematic for two reasons.

One obvious problem is the issue with the beef itself. Americans are trying to sell what they themselves won't eat. The anger though is toward the Korean government, who is accepting those.

That's the second issue. The anger is toward the Korean government's incompetency, rather than toward just the beef import issue. The series of policies that this government has come up with has been just mostly...crap. That's where the anger is aimed at, which was just triggered by this beef issue.

And about the FTA. FTA was initiated by Korea, and it is the Democrats in the U.S. who are opposed to it, for obvious reasons. It's gonna hit the American automobile industries pretty hard.

It's true that the U.S. market is the biggest market for the Korean exports, and it's also true that Korean economy grew through its strong export. But how did it's export become strong in the first place? Two things, one is the American market that you mentioned. The second is protectionism that Korea used to nurture its industries.

The FTA will bring difficulties to some industries in America (automobile) and in Korea too (agriculture). You gotta understand that there will always be concerns when that's the situation.

from a Liberal in the States.

Roland Dodds said...

Hey Freshviews, thanks for posting. But most of what you wrote is not correct, although it is the arguments being made by most of the protesters.

“First, The beef that's being sold in the US is different from what would be sold in Korea. It's a known fact that meat from cows that are 30 months old or older is not safe, because they have high potential of having Mad Cow Disease.”

Not true. From the BBC:

South Korea’s marching citizens have been worried onto the streets by widely circulated rumours that American consumers do not eat beef from cattle aged over 30 months, and that large quantities of this more dangerous, older meat will flood into Korea.

But according to statistics from the US beef industry, 18% of cattle slaughtered in the US for human consumption is above, in many cases well above, 30 months of age.
The meat from these animals, considered perfectly safe, is ground into beef for burgers and other such delights.

Americans, it seems, don’t just eat 30-month-old cows, they eat them in vast quantities.”

Not only do Americans eat meat that is over 30 months old, but we eat a lot of it. There is no credible science that says this meet is more likely to cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. I hear this brought up in Korea so often, that the meat being sent to Korea is stuff America won’t eat, that it amazes me since it is clearly and verifiably untrue.

So your first point of anger is unfounded. (Or at least, isn’t backed up by facts, but it sure has caused a furor in the minds of many Koreans).
Your second point:

“The anger is toward the Korean government's incompetency, rather than toward just the beef import issue. The series of policies that this government has come up with has been just mostly...crap. That's where the anger is aimed at, which was just triggered by this beef issue.”

The anger is built on basic anti-Americanism, although the protests have shifted their attention to LMB as the international media flew down upon them. This is from Hahm Sung-deuk:

Hahm Sung-deuk, professor of presidential studies at Korea University, does not agree that the beef protests are motivated by anti-American sentiment, but he admitted that outsiders may well be baffled as to why it has become such a serious issue.

“People have become gradually disappointed with President Lee,” he says. “There have been a series of errors.”

One of the biggest ones, he said, was to give the appearance of capitulating to American political interests."

When they argue that they are protesting the “capitulation” to the US, they are invoking the idea that Americans are out to push terrible and unwanted things on poor Korean people. It goes to the very core of Korean anti-Americanism, and as one can see by the way the protesters and their organizers have lied through their teeth about the safety of the beef as well as the trade deal itself, it is all made to mobilize people against a nation they will believe any lie told to them if it makes the US the bad guy, and the Koreans poor and defenseless.

I wish Koreans would see who this protest is really benefiting: the Democratic Labor Party and other pro-North, anti-American, and anti-trade groups. They are going to milk this political victory for all its worth and it was completely manufactured by them. They found something they knew they could scare people with, and went all for it. While the “anger” has sometimes been directed at Lee, it is because he signed a deal with the United States that brought the protesters out. If this same deal was signed with China or Russia, we wouldn’t see these kinds of protests.

About the FTA, you said:

“And about the FTA. FTA was initiated by Korea, and it is the Democrats in the U.S. who are opposed to it, for obvious reasons. It's gonna hit the American automobile industries pretty hard.”

You are correct here, and I for one don’t want to see the FTA end; I was trying to make a point in my post that the trade agreements between our countries is a two way street, and that if one side does not act as a reasonable trading partner, then we have to right to rethink that trade relationship.

The FTA is good for both Korea and America, but it says bad things about Korea when it finds ways to get out of trade deals it is accepted and that were entirely fair. This isn’t the first time the resident protest crowd has tried to derail a trade agreement.

Korea can never return to a protectionist trade policy. Just look at the garlic trade war they had with China recently. They tried to pull the same thing they are doing now with the beef, and the Chinese responded in kind, and banned imports of Korean goods until they abided by their agreements and kept their market open. I don’t remember seeing candlelight vigils over that spat.

While I assume most Koreans don’t want to see the FTA end and understand that a bigger trade battle with the US hurts them financially, the Democratic Labor Party and their stooges want that very thing to be. They won’t be happy until Korea is back to a hermit kingdom, and in the process, a living worldwide joke.

Roland Dodds said...

I forgot to include a link to the Garlic Wars story.

Eco said...

Hey, thanks for reading my comment and responding to it.

I read the BBC article, and was surprised about these informations. However, I am either unconvinced or unsatisfied by that article. There are several issues that are problematic.

First. The issue of cattle's age and the amount of those beef in circulation in the US. BBC says

"But according to statistics from the US beef industry, 18% of cattle slaughtered in the US for human consumption is above, in many cases well above, 30 months of age. The meat from these animals, considered perfectly safe, is ground into beef for burgers and other such delights."

Two Things here. About that 18%...although I can't deny it since I couldn't find any source that had exact numbers, that number still seems too high. I remember reading that more than 90% is beef from cattles younger than 30 monthes.

But the larger and more serious issue is with the age. The bbc reporter has it completely wrong. The whole world knows that the beef from cattles older than 30 mothes has higher potential of containing Prions. That is why even the US regulates them. These are some regulations from the FDA

"Similarly, FDA has prohibited the use of the cattle materials that carry the highest risk of BSE in human food, including dietary supplements, and in cosmetics. FDA's rule (and September 2005 amendments) prohibit use of the following cattle material in human food and cosmetics:

cattle material from organs from cattle 30 months of age or older in which infectious prions are most likely to occur, and the tonsils and the distal ileum of the small intestine of cattle of all ages"

No other country accepts beef from cattles that are older than 30 monthes. For instance, Japan heavily regulates beef imports from the US. They only allow those that are younger than 20 monthes.

This issue, of course, is an important matter. But it's really the Korean government's fault. It failed to read carefully the agreements, and misunderstood some crucial infos. And it failed to communicate with the Korean people before it went ahead with making the deal with Bush.

This is the second problem with your comment on this issue, as well as a whole bunch of foreign reports on this issue. They focus on the FTA and the beef import rather than seeing the larger picture. Of course, the mass demonstration was instigated by the beef import issue, but the reason it got so big isn't just the problem with this trade issue.

President Lee has been pushing unilaterally a series of outright neo-liberal policies, and every time he never cared to talk and listen to the Korean people. Even when Koreans went on to demonstrate, he ignored them until the movement became really huge that he had to call upon the riot police forces to beat them down.

I am sure you know this..that Koreans have a strong living memory of authoritarian regimes and democratic movements. The way President Lee is handling the issue is terrible enough to bring those memories back.

There are of course those people who are conservatives...or just pro Grand National Party that thinks every other person is a commie or a leftist. They ignore the core issue. And it seems that a lot of foreign reporters get information from those people, which is understandable since 70% Korean media is controlled by large conservative media companies.

I understand and genuinely worried that this demonstration can totally get out of control. But just calling it an anti-American movement is not understanding the issue fully. Anti-Americanism, i am sure, is partly fueling the movemet, but the target really is President Lee and his unilateralism.

Putting aside our different opinions, I really appreciate your insights and interests in Korea.

Eco said...

A New York Times Article about the Beef Safety issue in America

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/11/world/asia/11beef.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=beef&st=cse&oref=slogin

SnoopyTheGoon said...

You have started gathering some pretty interesting clients here, Roland. Like that anonymous fellow.

Quite charming - in an understated way ;-)