Thursday, June 26, 2008

Far East Economic Review On Korea’s Misinformation Age
» by GI Korea

Courtesy of a reader tip comes this article from Korean born US citizen Hancho Kim who is a retired businessman who has lived in Seoul for 27 years:

Welcome to the Misinformation Age. The premise behind this entire issue and its ensuing paralysis is a remarkable demonstration of the power of a lie today. Right now, South Korea is still battling the Avian Flu, while it simultaneously stares down the barrel of its belligerent, uncooperative and now, nuclearized, neighbor to the north. Despite these very immediate dangers, South Korea’s population is fixated on the threat posed by 42 million perfectly healthy cows in the United States. It defies logic. [Far East Economic Review]

Yes it does defy logic, but so does fan death. Mr. Kim continues on:

Seoul’s descent into madness didn’t come out of thin air. It was exploited—perhaps even manufactured—by political opponents who saw an opportunity in the perception that the new president was more businessman than statesman. His CEO-style presidency combined with his immediate coziness with Washington gave opponents the opportunity to depict U.S. beef imports as favoring U.S. interests over South Korea’s. Never mind the fact that U.S. beef meets an international standard for safety that exceeds South Korean standards.

The fact that this story is helping revive the fortunes of the recently ousted liberal party in Seoul while drawing attention away from their favorite charity in Pyongyang is likely no coincidence. Recent local by-elections handed them resounding wins and Pyongyang isn’t in the headlines for once, so it’s a strategy that’s working—for now.

As ROK Drop readers have long known that the anti-US groups and their media allies were behind the misinformation campaign that mobilized the protests. Once the protests were in full force the anti-US groups used them to initially to politically neuter Lee Myung-bak before shifting the attention of the protests towards these groups’ real agendas which are anti-US and pro-Pyongyang. However, this strategy may have backfired because since the shift in message attendance at the protests has fallen and there are signs average Koreans are not buying the leftist anti-US agenda being brought forward now.

Also ROK Drop readers also have long known that US beef is safer then domestic Korean beef since Korea refuses to meet global safety standards for beef set forth by the OIE. It is good to see these facts getting spread in the mainstream media. Mr. Kim then goes on to provide some good advice for Lee Myung-bak in regards to moving forward on this issue now which I recommend everyone read.

However, I do wish Mr. Kim would have addressed the undertone of anti-Americanism in Korean society that made these protests possible in the first place. Just the fact that the Korean public could actually believe that the US government is out to poison and kill them with imported beef is a perfect example of how bad the underlying anti-Americanism is in Korea. I continue to see this on going tendency to make excuses or ignore this fact, and ignoring it doesn’t make it go away and only sets conditions to justify the next big anti-US flare up in Korea.


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