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.