ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on April 27th, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Park Geun-hye Calls For Stop To Import of US Beef Into Korea

I guess Park Geun-hye sees the latest US beef controversy as an opportunity to further distance herself from the unpopular Lee Myung-bak administration:

Ruling party chief Park Geun-hye said Friday South Korea should halt quarantine inspections of American beef until it is confirmed safe to consume, as criticism grew over the government’s decision to continue imports despite a new mad cow case in the U.S.

Quarantine inspections are a key requirement U.S. beef shipments must undergo to receive customs clearance. Halting the process would therefore have the same effect as suspending imports because shipments would not be cleared to reach the local market even if they arrive at the country’s ports.

The remarks by Park, a leading presidential hopeful, increased pressure on the government, which has come under criticism for deciding to continue imports of U.S. beef with strengthened quarantine inspections despite the recent confirmation of a case of mad cow disease in the U.S.

Government officials have said the current situation does not merit an all-out halt of quarantine inspections as the latest case involving a dairy cow is not directly connected to beef that comes under South Korea’s import regulations. Public and political criticism has not died down, however.

“I think the government should halt quarantine inspections until we get definite information convincing enough to the people through epidemiological investigation, and should suspend imports altogether if a final analysis shows there is even a slight problem with safety,” Park said during a visit to the southeastern city of Masan.

Park said the government should not give the public the wrong perception that it is more interested in avoiding trade friction with the United States than in the health and safety of its people.  [Yonhap]

Over at the Marmot’s Hole he has a posting up that shows how the Hankyoreh is trying to push old mad cow fears such as how Korean are genetically more acceptable to getting mad cow disease in order to further frighten the public, which is of course not true.  I wish the Hankyoreh showed this much concern when the North Koreans were busy killing South Koreans two years ago while US beef has killed exactly zero people in South Korea.  Expect to hear a lot about public safety in regards to US beef in Korea when in reality it is all about anti-US politics.

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  • kushibo
    3:20 pm on April 27th, 2012 1

    America’s testing for Mad Cow and other health issues means that this one cow they found is really the tip of the iceberg, but if there really is a problem with the beef, the quarantine process could be utilized to find it.

    Nevertheless, I think the proactive Park is acting very shrewdly. By doing this she’s effectively taking this issue away from the left in an election year.

  • Tom
    3:31 pm on April 27th, 2012 2

    Park for President. :mrgreen:

  • 2 ID Doc
    4:33 pm on April 27th, 2012 3

    Somehow, I believe that American beef is still a highly prized commodity on the Black Market, just like cigarettes, liquor, dairy products & Spam, unless a lot has changed since I was assigned there. To agree with GI Korea’s post, more South Koreans have been killed by North Koreans in the past year versus zero Koreans have been killed by mad cow disease. IIRC, it is Eastern Europeans that have a predisposition to CJD from mad cow disease, not Asians of any type.

  • Tom
    5:01 pm on April 27th, 2012 4

    “more South Koreans have been killed by North Koreans in the past year versus zero Koreans have been killed by mad cow disease.”

    That’s entirely correct! And we want to keep it that way!

  • Teadrinker
    5:28 pm on April 27th, 2012 5


    Consider this: The cow wasn’t fed bone meal and animal protein.

  • Teadrinker
    5:39 pm on April 27th, 2012 6

    “Somehow, I believe that American beef is still a highly prized commodity on the Black Market, just like cigarettes, liquor, dairy products & Spam, unless a lot has changed since I was assigned there.”

    When were you last here? The 80′s or the 90′s. The economy has boomed since then. You probably wouldn’t recognize the country. There is now a strong middle-class, and as a result there is quite a bit of money to be made if you’re smart. I remember when the fanciest car in my town was a 25000$ Hyundai Grandeur (I now have a couple of friends who drive 200 000$ European cars).

  • kushibo
    7:20 pm on April 27th, 2012 7

    2 ID Doc, I don’t know about a predisposition toward CJD, but a South Korean woman last year died from Mad Cow contracted through surgery that involved use of a bovine product.

    Teadrinker wrote:

    Consider this: The cow wasn’t fed bone meal and animal protein.

    Consider this: The US by design does not test for disease but merely polls for it. For many public health issues, a mere one percent are tested, under the idea that if something severe is afflicting a farm or slaughterhouse, it will show up with spot testing and then more aggressive measures can be taken.

    For Mad Cow, it is apparently 1 in 2000 in practice. That statistically could very well mean that there are hundreds if not thousands more that have this but have not been picked up on the radar. This is a cause for concern.

    It’s also the supposedly extremely rare atypical form of BSE, something that is poorly understood. With all the connections we are learning about in recent years (e.g., ulcers caused by bacteria and deadly cancer causes by viruses), I’m not entirely confident that cow’s milk, a protein-rich substance, cannot possibly ever contain pathological folded proteins (i.e., prions) that are generally found in the brain and central nervous system.

    Mother Jones suggests that (a) they got lucky that they found this cow and (b) cows are still eating cow because cow protein is fed to chickens and chicken droppings are fed to cows. Prions are pretty danged resistant stuff.

    The protein-rich feed that got us into this mess in the first place and may be perpetuating it still, are all about profit, not public safety. Unfortunately, Big Beef and Big Corn have an undue amount of influence over the USDA and Dept of Agriculture, enough that I don’t have confidence that something is safe just because they say it’s not a problem.

  • Tom
    7:28 pm on April 27th, 2012 8

    Read and learn how Korean cows are fed, bred, raised, and history of the cow carefully tracked and inspected, compared to the factory USA meat packing operations. Korean breeding practices were learned from Japan. Korean cows are fed natural grains like rice straws which are found abundantly in Korea, while US ranchers feed factory produced hormone induced plastic animal feed.

    This is why Korean hanwoos are prized over the cheap American imports which are often disguised and sold as Korean. You can fool people with it for a while, but if you do a side to side taste comparison, you can tell which one is the carelessly mass produced cheap import and which one is the true quality. Americans and their beef nationalism. :lol:

  • Tom
    7:43 pm on April 27th, 2012 9

    Is the Korean beef better? Watch and find out how cows are raised, and why they taste better. American steaks? pfffttt….

  • kushibo
    7:46 pm on April 27th, 2012 10

    Thanks for the link, Tom.

    Anyway, Hanwoo should be spelled Hanu. There is no “w” in 우 and the “woo” spelling makes it look like Chinese, which is not a good association if the idea is to associate one’s product with quality.

    “Hanu Beef” feels more like “Kobe Beef,” where as “Hanwoo” sounds like a cheap manufacturer of dorm fridges or something.

  • King Baeksu
    8:09 pm on April 27th, 2012 11

    South Korea only imports US beef under thirty months old.

    The latest mad cow found in the US was over ten years old, or four times older than the maximum age of US beef allowed into South Korea.

    BSE is at risk in cows much older than thirty months, so let’s not get our knickers in a twist here, although I do not expect the Korean media to clarify these key facts at all. Indeed, their main job is always to cattle prod their cow-like readers and viewers, much like our excitable friend Tom here, and thereby keep them in line and sell more papers.

    Just as the conservatives in recently elections have appropriated welfare populism from the progressives, so is Park here appropriating nationalism from the progressives, and in so doing demagoging the issue of “food security and safety.” In a sense, nationalism is the essential foundation or base of South Korean progressives; Park has effectively pulled the rug out from under them here, leaving them with nothing unique to stand on, or to differentiate themselves from conservatives. Evidently she is one sharp pol, which should make the progressives very worried this year. But if past history is a reliable guide, they are probably too arrogant and stupid to even grasp this basic point.

  • kushibo
    8:29 pm on April 27th, 2012 12

    King Baeksu, read the “everything’s fine here, nothing to see, move along” media reports in the US to see “cow-like readers and viewers” being force-fed a party line.

    The US beef industry (and apparently the dairy industry) are shoddy at best when it comes to keeping an eye on pathogens. While I agree that the chinboistas are trying to get people hysterical about Mad Cow, the problem is not just overreaction by South Koreans (and Taiwanese and Indonesians and perhaps Japanese) but an under-reaction by Americans who can actually effect better policies directly.

    Why are we feeding animals to herbivores? Why did we turn cattle into carnivores and even cannibals? It’s this kind of mucked-up thing that is so irrational and worrisome.

    Supposedly cows are no longer directly fed cow in their feed, but they do eat chicken droppings, and those chickens eat cow, the proteins of which may cycle back into the cows. Prions are kinda sorta resilient, so this is troublesome.

    Meanwhile, there is evidence that BSE-type illnesses may in fact be transmittable through milk.

    These are all the result of very unnatural processes done in the name of quick profits over public health. That has me far more concerned than a bunch of teenagers with candles in a cup.

  • Tom
    8:48 pm on April 27th, 2012 13

    LOL Kingbeksu… that dairy cow was 10 years old, how many milk shakes did that cow serve up? And where did they go?

    You know why Koreans don’t trust American beef? Because Koreans totally and 100% rely on American industry to self-police to guarantee that the beef is 100% mad cow free. That’s right. Korea relies on US beef industry and their colluding US government to check that the US beef is safe. Are they really safe?

    Is it a coincidence that Korea’s alzheimer’s cases has been going up ever since the importation of US beef in the 1980′s? Just wait 20, 30 years until the incubation period for this disease is over. Then I want to see you talk again. You think you just eat the mad cow beef and get sick right away? Talk about ignorance!

  • Tom
    8:52 pm on April 27th, 2012 14

    I also meant to say, the entire US beef import to Korea is based on honor system of the US industry in charge of inspection. They say they’re only selling us less than 3 years old beef. That’s what THEY say. The beef can be 3, 4, 5, or 10 years old, Korean customs can’t tell how old the cows were, and if they were dairy beef or not.

  • kushibo
    8:53 pm on April 27th, 2012 15

    Tom wrote:

    Is it a coincidence that Korea’s alzheimer’s cases has been going up ever since the importation of US beef in the 1980′s?

    No, it’s not a coincidence. Both increased life expectancy and increases in beef imports are a function of dramatically rising prosperity.

    I don’t know if there really is a BSE component to Alzheimer’s, but probability of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s increases dramatically with age. Korea has more and more septuagenarians, octogenarians, nonagenarians, and centenarians than ever before, and it would naturally follow that there would be more people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s as a result.

    There are a lot of longitudinal studies on overall health markers. It would be interesting to see if the data they’ve gathered can be mined for information on a correlation between zero, low, medium, and high beef consumption.

  • King Baeksu
    9:04 pm on April 27th, 2012 16

    The whole problem with this issue is that mad cow is just a diversion. I’m all for organic beef and am myself quite disgusted by industrial-scale factory farming in the US. However, Koreans do not seem to be demanding the importation of higher-quality organic US beef, and I rarely hear of hormones or antibiotics in US factory-farmed beef being made an issue of in the South Korean media. Why is that? Because A) Korean cattle farmers seem to use hormones and antibiotics widely themselves; B) Koreans want cheap beef, which is the main selling point of factory-farmed US beef.

    Once I hear Park Geun-hye and the Korean media making organic beef a national demand, I’ll start to take them seriously. For now, I merely see the whole lot of them as opportunistic media whores, frankly.

  • kushibo
    9:43 pm on April 27th, 2012 17

    That’s a very self-serving description of “what Koreans are demanding.”

    First off, I have to ask, do you have a link that demonstrates your assertion hormones and antibiotics are “widely used” in Korea? I’m not saying it’s not the case, but neither am I going to take it at face value that Korea employs the same practices as the US when that is not the case with certain disease testing.

    More to the point, however, you’re making it a false choice between disease-free meat and cheap meat. Koreans want cheap meat, yes, but they want cheap meat that they can feel confident is disease-free.

    For a very moderate cost, the US can employ health inspections much closer to Europe’s or Japan’s. Koreans are demanding it, and so should Americans.

    Organic beef may be the best choice in the long run, but absent purely organic beef, the US can do far, far, far, far better on its beef production than it has. Frankly, if it’s a wake-up call, I hope Korea follows suit with Indonesia and bans US beef, and so does Taiwan, Japan, and a bunch of other countries. Max Baucus and the FTA gave Big Beef cover to avoid introspection, and here’s hoping they don’t do that the second time around.

    I’m not going to let my annoyance at pro-Pyongyang chinboistas who tout this issue spin me over to the other side which is full of b.s.

  • Tom
    10:14 pm on April 27th, 2012 18

    LOL… growth hormones injected into cows and feeding them genetically modified artificial feeds, are the US specialty. That’s why US and EU have a spat over that. And no, in Korea that’s not an accepted practice, despite the unwarranted charges. :lol: Korean beef doesn’t rely on quantity of meat to make money, like the US beef industry does. That’s just American way of thinking, make money by making them bigger and fatter, forget quality, big is the best. :lol:

    Koreans definitely have this right. Think about it. Why do you think Koreans are thinner and live longer than Americans? Eating too much red meat is not good for you. Koreans should really go back to eating beef only once in a while, like they did 25, 30 years ago. Back then, beef was so expensive, it forced Koreans to eat healthier meals. Diseases like cancer, overweight, diabetes, were relatively few compared to America. That’s what Korea was, before they started importing cheap beef from America under threats of trade sanctions and other retaliations. Pretty soon, cancer cases shot through the roof.

    And what’s wrong with Koreans trying to eat locally grown food? It helps the environment and there’s no food supplies being shipped half way around the world where farm produces are shipped in cargo containers, as a result driving up the oil price.

  • Tom
    10:22 pm on April 27th, 2012 19

    LOL at Kingbeksu. Do you know another reason why Korean cows seem to be susceptible to foot and mouth disease, other then the close geographic locations of Korean farms to each other? Because Korea bans anti-biotics on its animals. Korea can easily solve the destructive animal diseases, by injecting the animals with antibiotics. But Korean farmers are not as irresponsible as the US farmers who will inject their animals with anything, that will get consumed by their people later.

  • King Baeksu
    10:27 pm on April 27th, 2012 20

    “First off, I have to ask, do you have a link that demonstrates your assertion hormones and antibiotics are “widely used” in Korea?”

    A Korean doctor friend and I looked into the issue in 2008-’09 and at that time, the answer was yes according to mainstream Korean-language media reports. They were also discovered to be feeding ruminants to their cattle as well, although that seems to be now under control given the wide testing for BSE in place in Korea. However, more research is required on the issue of hormones and antibiotics in Korean beef. According to this article, antibiotics in Korean animal feed were completely banned just last year:

    Sounds good, but how widely is the ban followed in Korea? We know that the sale of dog meat is banned in South Korea, yet you can find dog-meat restaurants on literally every corner of South Korean cities.

    As for growth hormones, this Wikipedia pages cites at least one hormone that is NOT banned in South Korea:

    No doubt, more research is required on the subject, but again, back in 2008-’09 I was able to confirm from Korean sources that growth hormones were widely used in Korean beef.

    Anyhow, I am far less concerned about BSE, which a have a 1 in a billion chance of contracting, than I am of being exposed to antibiotics, hormones and other crap literally every time I eat beef. If Park Geun-hye cares so much about the safety and health of Korean citizens, how about the ROK helping to subsidize organic US beef imports, so that it is the same price for consumers as factory-farmed US beef? Think that will ever happen? When cows fly, it will.

  • King Baeksu
    10:39 pm on April 27th, 2012 21

    “And what’s wrong with Koreans trying to eat locally grown food?”

    Tom, you are not making sense. Korea is too small and mountainous to be able to produce enough beef for its domestic market, hence the need to import beef from other countries.

    “Diseases like cancer, overweight, diabetes, were relatively few compared to America. That’s what Korea was, before they started importing cheap beef from America under threats of trade sanctions and other retaliations.”

    Tom, have you ever been to a Starbucks, Coffee Bean or Dunkin’ Donuts outlet in Korea? Young Koreans love to feast on all sorts of fatty, sickly sweet drinks and desserts there. And what about those disgusting Korean fast-food street stalls? I agree that eating less meat is generally healthier, but you seem to have a rather blinkered view of a much larger problem as far as the health and diets of modern Koreans are concerned. What you sound like is another woe-is-me victimized Korean who would rather blame foreigners instead of taking a long hard look in the mirror.

    It’s a sunny day, so I’m out of here for now. Too much time in front of a screen certainly ain’t healthy!

  • kushibo
    10:46 pm on April 27th, 2012 22

    KB (#20), thanks for the link. At the risk of annoying you, I would like to point out a pet peeve of mine in that dog meat restaurants are not literally on every corner of South Korean cities. ;-) In fact, I’d have to travel quite a few blocks in my central Seoul neighborhood to find one.

    And regarding #21, Tom is not a woe-is-me victimized Korean. He’s a sh¡t-be-stirring Beijing agitprop who has little clue about what typical South Korean consumers actually do, even if I do generally agree with him on his criticisms of the US beef industry.

    And it’s true that young Koreans love sweet stuff and fatty stuff, but that doesn’t really explain the cancer, overweight, diabetes, etc., of their older counterparts who were kids in the 1970s or earlier.

  • Dreamboat Annie
    1:59 am on April 28th, 2012 23

    Wow, the over reaction we all expected has come to fruition. US beef is exported all over the world but only Koreans fall for this line of bull.

    BTW, everyone in Korea KNOWS that the leftist media is full of chit but does anyone EVER challenge them on their “reporting”??

  • kushibo
    2:48 am on April 28th, 2012 24

    Not quite, Dreamboat Annie. First off, South Korea hasn’t banned American beef (yet). If it did, it would join Indonesia, which has halted imports due to this Mad Cow case.

    Second, almost the same thing is happening in Taiwan, with the clamor to ban American beef becoming a political issue that separates would-be presidential contenders from the actions of their government.

    Japan, meanwhile, still squeamishly maintains strong restrictions on American beef that stem from the Mad Cow case in 2003.

    Far from being a case of “only Koreans fall for this line of bull,” it’s an Asia-wide thing, although I’m not so sure it’s “bull.” The case can easily be made that the American consumers are sheeple when it comes to buying bull about cows.

  • Tom
    4:14 am on April 28th, 2012 25

    Thailand has just banned the US infected dirty beef, and New Zealand is mulling over the banning as well.

    That’s funny. That’s absolutely hilarious.

    I guess despite what the American propaganda machine is touting, Korea isn’t the only one concerned with the spreading Mad Cow disease in American population.


  • kushibo
    4:21 am on April 28th, 2012 26

    Tom, the South Koreans got to them. ROK govt and NGOs are tackling this the way East Sea evangelism is handled: get each country on board one by one. :razz:

  • 코리
    7:02 am on April 28th, 2012 27

    Did it somehow become mandatory that Koreans (or anyone for that matter) buy and consume factory-farmed American beef? Are meat-mercenaries going door to door forcing poor, helpless Koreans to consume steaks and burgers by the kilo? Not to my knowledge. So then, how has Korea become (by some estimates) the second largest importer of American beef? Obviously because the consumers demand it.
    Why, then, is there a need for the government to effectively ban a consumer demand? Of all nations, Korean citizens least of all could be considered ignorant to the possible health risks of American beef unless they live in a cave with no internet, TV or newspapers, but still the product is leaving the shelves. Obviously a conscious decision has been made here that the reward outweighs the risk. The same kind of decision that’s made when someone lights of a cigarette, although I don’t think a nice sirloin has been shown to be chemically addictive yet.
    I certainly have concerns and reservations about the livestock practices back home in the States as well as health worries about red meat so I do try to limit my consumption (although CJD isn’t among the concerns) and the decision of others to do so is up to them. What really bothers me is that this story has nothing to do with concerns and worries for the public health or improving the production and import quality of beef, but everything to do with politics and puppet-masters hoping to pull the strings of misplaced nationalism once more. I just hope they don’t succeed.

  • Rehash
    7:28 am on April 28th, 2012 28

    Koreans and food safety?! What a joke!

    The ajjuma near my place has for years been cutting up chinken on the bare concrete outside her resaurant. I also saw a huge tub of chicken feet being filled with rain water from the roof of said restaurant. Take a walk around and check out the way Koreans prepare, handle and serve food in restaurants and you’ll see disgusting things that the whole public can openly see.

    I had a fly in my soup one time and the ajjuma at the restaurant took it out with a spoon, laughed and walked out back, my Korean-American friend couldn’t finish eating his own soup and we split.

    Koreans should be concerned, that’s for sure because history has shown Koreans do not practice food safety anymore than anyone else.

    Go protest over the tainted pork Chile has sent to Korea time and again.

  • Rehash
    7:31 am on April 28th, 2012 29

    Oh, as far as best tasting beef, Kobe beef beats anything Korea, or the US has ever produced.

    When one looks for the best tasting beef in the world, Korea doesn’t have it.

  • Rehash
    7:34 am on April 28th, 2012 30

    Nice one #27! That just shows the hypocrisy behind it all.

    Reminds me of the fact that Koreans don’t want the US around unless it’s to die for Korea in time of war, pretty much the same thing.

  • Dreamboat Annie
    1:56 pm on April 28th, 2012 31

    24- I was talking about deliberate media lies about American beef. If you can’t see how this is ALL about politics and protectionism of Korean beef, for financial gain, then you still just don’t get it. Big Picture-follow the money.
    24-You do seem to enjoy parroting many of the claims made by the leftist media. As for “following” the rest of Asia with regards to importing American beef, then why didn’t Korea follow the rest of Asia when everyone else was importing US beef before 2008?

  • Dreamboat Annie
    2:17 pm on April 28th, 2012 32

    Kushibo, you just don’t get it with regards to many of the larger issues, and one of the biggest is consumer choice. In the USA we let consumers be the ultimate judges of what they buy. That’s called a free market and economics teaches us that consumers are the correct ultimate judges of what’s best for them. It may shock you to hear this in some context, but many Americans don’t eat beef or any meat at all. They’re called “vegetarians” and they do it freely- not because the government bans products or because of media lies. People are trusted to make their own food choices and markets grow around those choices.
    In Korea, on the other hand, the government doesn’t care one whit about consumer choice. The government makes all of the choices about what is available and what isn’t available so that the Korean consumer gets screwed royally. If it’s such a great system then why are prices through the roof on everything? Because it’s all about gouging consumers. Larger grocery stores are even being forced to clse on certain weekends in a concerted effort to limit consumer choice. As for being a vegetarian in Korea, or just wanting something/anything other than a few basic products that the Korean government openly promotes, go ahead and try to find those products at a Korean grocer. You can’t- unless you want to pay through the nose. Ask yourself- Why are consumer choices so limited that the AAFES black market still thrives in 2012? Consumers are nobodies to the government and this latest “beef scare” will, once again, be used by the Korean government to limit consumer choice to line the pockets of some protected Korean industry. It’s all about politics and money and if you can’t see that then you’re a fool.

  • Glans
    3:07 pm on April 28th, 2012 33

    kushibo, is Dreamboat Annie really a dreamboat? Or maybe an undercover agent for rightists.

  • Dreamboat Annie
    5:16 pm on April 28th, 2012 34

    33- Just telling the truth. I don’t blog for a living.

    The protectionism in Korea only “protects” Korean consumers from lower prices and more choices.

  • Teadrinker
    9:07 pm on April 28th, 2012 35

    “Mother Jones suggests that (a) they got lucky that they found this cow and (b) cows are still eating cow because cow protein is fed to chickens and chicken droppings are fed to cows. Prions are pretty danged resistant stuff. ”

    Well, then it’s not true that it isn’t being fed animal protein. Chicken shit contains protein.


    Yes, that is the clear and logical explanation. Life expectancy (and greater access to medical care) will result in a higher incidence of cases being diagnosed.

  • Glans
    9:35 pm on April 28th, 2012 36

    kushibo, did you see how Annie dodged the question? She refused to say whether she’s a dreamboat.

  • Casanova
    9:45 pm on April 28th, 2012 37

    #27, best post on this thread.

    Tom and Kushibo, I feel sorry for your parents. :lol:

  • Stephen
    12:41 am on April 29th, 2012 38

    7:02 am on April 28th, 2012

    What really bothers me is that this story has nothing to do with concerns and worries for the public health or improving the production and import quality of beef, but everything to do with politics and puppet-masters hoping to pull the strings of misplaced nationalism once more.

    Ahn Cheol-soo must have Park Geun-hye rattled if she’s stooping to this low form of populism.

  • G.I. G.I. Joe
    4:13 am on April 29th, 2012 39

    #22 kushibo: “And regarding #21, Tom is not a woe-is-me victimized Korean. He’s a sh¡t-be-stirring Beijing agitprop….”

    I’ve seen this written about Tom before. I have a few questions:
    1) How do you know?
    2) It this is true, to what end is he agitating/propagandizing?
    3) Tom writes without an accent. Is he a westerner?

  • MTB Rider
    7:08 pm on April 29th, 2012 40

    The only way to KNOW is to look up what DNS Tom is posting from. And this is assuming he’s not using a proxy or series of proxies to mask his location.

    What Tom agitates is anything anti-American, while ignoring anything from China. Tom jumped in on the “Ban U.S. Beef” bandwagon even though no Korean has ever died or contracted CJD from U.S. produced beef, and he wants to keep it that way. But when a Chinese Fisherman stabs a Korean Coastguardsman to death, that’s just China being China. Anything the U.S. does, good, bad or indifferent Tom rails against. Anything China does good is lauded to the heavens, anything bad is excused because hyung knows best.

    South Koreans live longer, healthier lives, and live more fulfilling lives than their North Korean brothers. The U.S. supports South Korea, China supports North Korea. American G.I.s sometimes have sex with Korean prostitutes=BAD. Chinese “Immigration Officers” send North Korean refugees back to death camps=You can’t PROVE everyone dies, so NOT bad.

    Tom’s smooth English skills shows that he didn’t just learn English at a hagwan, but that he has lived in either the U.S. or Canada for some time. This is why I call Tom the Chinese-Canadian agitprop on a stringer contract with China.

  • kushibo
    3:57 am on April 30th, 2012 41

    Tom not only ignores bad acts by China, he excuses them and, when nothing bad from China is happening, talks with an enthusiastic fervor about how Korea should run to China and get under its wing.

    There is a small segment of South Korean society that is intractably anti-American (i.e., well beyond mere annoyed feelings that the US sometimes disrespects Korea or stuff like that which are more common even among some very pro-American SoKos), and Tom’s rhetoric wouldn’t be particularly different from theirs. But his feverish pro-China sentiment is so completely out of whack even with the far left that it stands out for its oddness.

    We do know from DNS that Tom is in North America, not South Korea. The last I recall was Toronto.

    It is circumstantial, but since I know for a fact that many Chinese students studying abroad are required to actually work as agitprop as part of their educational package (e.g., going online and defending Beijing positions and/or going to rallies to counter or drown out pro-Tibet or pro-Falun Gong gatherings), I think it is plausible, particularly considering his highly atypical pro-China views.

    Of course, there are leftist Korean agitprop people as well, though not organized in the international forums in this way. They are mostly domestic. I recall back during the doctors’ strike that med students did not take the time off but instead showed up at phone banks and computer banks where they attacked online and on the phone journalists, politicians, and others who spoke out against the doctors or in favor of the government’s plan (which was against the doctors).

    But again, that was domestic, in Korean, and Tom’s pro-Beijing views are so nearly universally rejected in Korea, across the political spectrum, that it seems extremely unlikely.

    Tom also has been unable to convincingly demonstrate knowledge that would prove he grew up when and where his bio originally said he was from, and he responded by changing the bio.

  • Dreamboat Annie
    4:53 am on April 30th, 2012 42

    It’ll be a non-issue by the December election, anyway.

  • kushibo
    9:29 am on April 30th, 2012 43

    Dreamboat Annie, I think you’re right, but that is partly because of how Park herself (the presumed candidate for the “conservative” side) has gone about trying to take this issue from the anti-government leftist fringe that used it to try to take down President Lee in 2008.

  • kangaji
    11:00 am on April 30th, 2012 44

    #2: Yeah! Voting in the head of Sae Nuridang and all those conservative values will totally mean the US will disappear from Korea… oh wait.

  • Stimpy
    8:02 pm on April 30th, 2012 45

    Park may be leaning to the left prematurely. She may have a primary battle on her hands.

  • kangaji
    8:15 pm on April 30th, 2012 46

    #45: I’d rather see Saenuri dang undermine leftist nationalism for election purposes and then make reasonable trade deals with the US while not bribing North Korea rather than see leftists use nationalism for election purposes and then make reasonable trade deals with the US while bribing North Korea and pretending like they are against free trade agreements.

  • JoeC
    5:32 am on May 3rd, 2012 47

    On the general subject of food quality, masterful commentary by Lewis Black. :lol:

  • Ivana Hump
    7:57 pm on June 21st, 2012 48

    It’s all back to normal.

  • Leon LaPorte
    9:36 pm on June 21st, 2012 49

    47. Lewis Black ought to run for office. As a comedian, he’s a lot funnier and a lot smarter than the clowns we have now.

    /pig snouts and anuses :lol:

  • Dreamboat Annie
    4:14 am on June 22nd, 2012 50

    There’s nothing wrong with American beef.

  • Lee Lemon
    7:29 am on January 18th, 2013 51

    I just wanted to touch on this comment: “Somehow, I believe that American beef is still a highly prized commodity on the Black Market, just like cigarettes, liquor, dairy products & Spam, unless a lot has changed since I was assigned there.”

    I currently live in South Korea and none of these products are illegal (black market = the selling/trading/purchase of illegal goods).

    -US beef is considered by some Koreans to be inferior to Korean beef, but it is definitely openly sold. Some restaurants sell US beef exclusively. Australian beef is very cheap and found in pretty much every grocery store.

    -Cigarettes are far cheaper here than in the United States, running about 2 US dollars a pack on average. Korea has many cigarette companies, styles and flavors, but shops also carry imported brands from the US and Japan.

    -Liquor can be found in any grocery store, specialty wine/liquor stores and even the average convenience market. It also can be consumed in public, like at a bus station or outside a convenience store.

    -Dairy products are available from just about every store possible. Large companies like Maeil and Seoul Milk are most commonly found. Korean cheese and imported cheese are also easily found in supermarkets. Cheese from the US, Australia, France, Denmark, Ireland and other places are available for purchase. Some smaller specialty shops also carry very high quality specialty cheeses sold at a deli counter.

    -Spam is not only widely available but other companies sell similar products, leaving no one in want for canned processed ham products. They are sold in the rectangular cans or by the single serving.

    So yes, plenty has changed since you were assigned here. None of the products you listed are “highly prized” or “Black Market” items.

  • guitard
    9:29 am on January 18th, 2013 52

    Lee Lemon wrote:

    I currently live in South Korea and none of these products are illegal (black market = the selling/trading/purchase of illegal goods).

    You’re getting “available” mixed up with “illegal.”

    A Korean national can legally purchase Chivas Regal scotch that was imported into Korea by a Korean distributor, i.e., it’s available.

    However, it’s illegal for a Korean to purchase a bottle of Chivas Regal that comes from a US military base store.

    And just for the sake of discussion – why would a Korean want to purchase a bottle of Chivas Regal that came from on base when it’s so readily available on the Korean economy. Among other reasons:

    1. Bragging rights. Old mindsets don’t die out easily. For decades – having a bottle of scotch that came from the US base proved you “have connections.” You’re a “big shot.” That mindset still exists – so when you have friends over at your place and you bust out a bottle of Scotch and point out the markings on the package/bottle that indicate it’s from on base – your friends are impressed.

    2. To a lesser – but still very important extent – Koreans feel they can trust that the liquor coming from on-base is the the real thing. Fake versions of high end liquor are common in Korea.

    So yes, plenty has changed since you were assigned here. None of the products you listed are “highly prized” or “Black Market” items.

    Like many markets, the law of supply and demand drives the train. And the black market in Korea for on-base products is no different. If there wasn’t a demand – the black marketing would stop. But it’s still happening – because there is still a demand.

    An interesting side note: I attended a black marketing suppression briefing back during the mad cow disease scare when the import of American beef to Korea was banned. The MPs said since the ban went into effect – black marketing of kalbi had skyrocketed. The explanation was that the Koreans were under the impression that – unlike the beef that entered Korea through the Korean distributors – the beef sold on base was “the good stuff” that you could trust because the Americans would never give their own people meat infected with mad cow disease.


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