Saturday, May 24, 2008

President Lee Apologizes for US Beef Controversy
» by GI Korea

It must be frustrating apologizing for doing something that is in the national interest of the country:

President Lee Myung-bak has apologized to the nation for the controversy over U.S. beef imports.

In a nationally televised statement on Thursday, the president said he feels sorry and humbly accepts criticism that his administration did not fully address public concerns about mad cow disease.

Lee admitted the government’s efforts to listen to and understand the public were insufficient as it sought to resume U.S. beef imports. He blamed himself for any policy confusion.

He went on to say he was frustrated when what he said were groundless fears of mad cow disease spread throughout society. He added it was heartbreaking to see young students join candlelight rallies to protest the U.S. beef import deal.

Stressing that public health cannot be traded for anything, he said the government stipulated Korea’s sovereign right to halt U.S. beef imports in the event of a health-threatening situation. He added that the nation’s overall food safety standards would be upgraded to the level of advanced countries.

The president urged the National Assembly to ratify the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, saying it would help create 300-thousand jobs and revitalize the Korean economy. [KBS Global]

It has to be additionally frustrating when the controversy you are apologizing over was caused by yellow journalism:

The MBC news program “PD Diary”, which broadcast the report on mad cow disease showing a staggering cow being dragged into a slaughterhouse and an American woman in her 20s said to have died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease — the human form of the bovine disease — has been ordered by the Press Arbitration Commission to air a statement saying the two key points made by the program are untrue. The report spread fear among the Korean public that consuming American beef causes CJD and triggered nationwide protests against imports of U.S. beef. The commission said it is no evidence of mad cow disease if cattle stagger, while the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the interim finding that the woman did not die from CJD.

“PD Diary”, which aired on April 29, consolidated the belief among Koreans both young and old that U.S. beef equals mad cow disease by showing horrific images and featuring shocking incidents for 10 straight minutes. The images broadcast by the program were fresh in the minds of people across the country who came out into the streets to take part in candlelight vigils. Now it turns out that the main points made by “PD Diary” were false. [Chosun Ilbo via TMH]

President Lee has said that next week US beef imports will continue so expect some serious comedy from the usual suspects next week that should as always provide for some great blogging material.

No comments: