Moms pushing strollers were part of a massive protest in Seoul on Thursday after the government announced it would go ahead with American beef imports. Because obviously mothers are worried about the safety of their children. Which is why 12% of Korean drivers with children use car seats. Yes, Koreans actually fought against a car-seat requirement in 2006, and had the law repealed one day after it went into effect. But, according to one official at the transportation department, the logic of dropping the law was sound:
“The revision is also contrary to the government’s policy to increase the birthrate since it would be difficult for a family with more than two children to use car seats for all of the kids in terms of space and cost."
Yeah oiafuweofuosij3ue8wej. After everything that's gone on this past month, I shouldn't have even looked at that article, because I just can't handle anymore Sparkling. I just . . . I . . . why? *sigh* This is a difficult place sometimes. Anyway, that original Joongang Ilbo article up top also reports that truckers will refuse to transport shipments of American beef across the country.
The Korea Cargo Transport Workers Union made the announcement yesterday that its members will boycott such shipment orders [of American beef].
In other news, as first picked up by Korea Beat, the cops are letting protesters decorate police riot gear with bumper stickers. To be fair, it isn't June yet.
And just so we're up to speed, there's a famine in several provinces in North Korea, and Korean snipers at the Chinese border are shooting refugess. But it's important to remember the real enemy, namely the Americans
Recent cartoons from the Korea Teachers' Union website.
* The forums have been throwing out the 1 in 10 billion figure, which has appeared in a number of articles and on a number of sites, including this commonly-cited one and CNN.com back in 2004. I'm wary of quoting that figure, though, because there are too many caveats that a our more stubborn neighbors *cough* would latch on to in order to discredit the information totally, provided that they even acknowledge "information" at all. The CDC site actually says:
A rough estimate of this risk for the UK in the recent past, for example, was about 1 case per 10 billion servings. Among many uncertainties affecting such risk determinations are 1) the incubation period between exposure to the infective agent and onset of illness, 2) the appropriate interpretation and public health significance of the prevalence estimates of asymptomatic human vCJD infections, 3) the sensitivities of each country’s surveillance for BSE and vCJD, 4) the compliance with and effectiveness of public health measures instituted in each country to prevent BSE contamination of human food, and 5) details about cattle products from one country distributed and consumed elsewhere.
Regardless, the odds of contracting the disease are very small. As I and pretty much every other foreigner in this country have said, while there are perfectly acceptable reasons for protesting the FTA and for even protesting the import of American beef, this Mad Cow business is ridiculous beyond words. I'll admit I'm discouraged to see otherwise sane and reasonable people bewitched by this fervor. What's really unsettling is not the anti-American stuff that creeps in now and again, or the uncritical groupthink toward this particular issue. What's really unsettling is how quickly people around here tend to angrily swarm around causes, how ugly and how blatant their ulterior motives are, and how little room for minority . . ., um, positions there is. Whether it's Mad Cow, or the two girls killed by a military vehicle in 2002, or foreign teachers with Korean women in 2005, or the World Cup disappointment of 2006, or all the Liancourt Rocks crap, or the base relocation business, or the FTA stuff the past few years. Because what's more remarkable than those causes themselves, at least to me, is the wholehearted disregard of both fact and reason in the quest to support positions that seem to preexist the events themselves. Ignoring international media (and thus creating stories by omission), ignoring video evidence (or manipulating it to your liking), ignoring the scientific community (and promoting lies that most would consider incredible and unbelievable) . . . Perhaps I'm exaggerating and I'm overanalyzing things as bloggers are wont to do. But while I do admit to really loving being here 98% of the time, in the back of my mind I know it could be only a matter of time before people's ugliness turns our way again, and with potentially disastrous results. You know, I just mentioned fervent, sometimes violent, protests against the US military, the US government, foreign teachers, Japan, the Japanese government, FIFA, and Switzerland . . . anybody else see a disturbing trend? Then again, Koreans sure do love them some protesting.