Biggest Beef Protest Yet

June 10th, 2008 · Health and Environment, Photos · 35 comments

Good Lord, just look at the scale of the protest currently being carried out in Gwanghamun. Just looking at this picture it’s hard for me to imagine American beef ever being sold in Korea again.

Update: The Chosun Ilbo reports that last night’s protests in Seoul drew 80,000 people according to police but 700,000 according to the protest organizers, so there’s a small difference of opinion there.

Furthre update: Yonhap says the police finally estimated a total of 240,000.


  • Yeah. Protests about US beef. ㅡ.ㅡ;;;;; But the only visible sign isn’t whining about steaks…

    taemin · June 10th, 2008 at 10:35 PM

  • Korean economy tanks because of bad!&@% beef…get your money out while you can Xb

    nickknows · June 10th, 2008 at 11:04 PM

  • […] apartment either. Can anyone confirm if anything happened in Seomyeon or not? Meanwhile, probably the hugest protest on the issue ever is being staged in Seoul tonight. (Hat tip to Brian, whose post on it turned up on Bloglines before […]

    A Riot Averted in Busan: Update « The Grand Narrative · June 10th, 2008 at 11:33 PM

  • […] are flying around that 1 million people are supposed to be at the protest tonight. [Edit – Korea Beat linkedthis picture from the rally […]

    Funk Seoul Sister · June 10th, 2008 at 11:37 PM

  • Help me understand what in the world is going on in Korea…Why are people so afraid of importing American beef? My Gosh – why all this chaos over American beef and mad cow disease?? Smells like propaganda to me…

    Mind-Boggled · June 11th, 2008 at 12:19 AM

  • It’s gone far beyond beef — as Tae-min points out the sign in the photo is against the grand canal project — but do a search in the archives here or on any other Korea blog for “beef” and you’ll get filled in.

    Korea Beat · June 11th, 2008 at 12:29 AM

  • Remember the old saying about how you should be careful, or you could get what you wish for?
    The best thing President Lee can do for his country right now is walk away from this shaking his head. Simply up and declare that he isn’t coming to work tomorrow, and that he wishes the government and the people good luck with replacing him, and putting in place a trade deal that everyone will be satisfied with.

    Perhaps that will get people more focused on what they really want, and what they are trying to accomplish. This isn’t about mad cow disease anymore.

    Pohang · June 11th, 2008 at 12:38 AM

  • It’s a bit ludicrous, if you ask me. People are just “following the crowd”…”peer pressure” perhaps. These young Korean “protesters”, do they actually know what this is all about? Sure mad cow disease is possible, but how likely is it??? If Koreans are so fearful of mad cow disease and are willing to stage violent protests in mass numbers, perhaps they should look at other sources that contribute to illnesses that plague the world in greater numbers. This ordeal is just getting bigger and bigger – totally uncalled for…I think Koreans get easily brainwashed, in my opinion. Koreans are so into following trends, being cautious of what others think of them, and going along with the general population…Seriously, it’s about time to grow up, and start thinking more independently, Koreans!!!!

    STILL Mind-Boggled · June 11th, 2008 at 12:48 AM

  • I think the South Korean people are protesting because in this last beef-trade agreement many restrictions that listed a lot of “specified risk materials” from being imported were lifted. On top of that, a lot of the rights that the South Korean government had on importing American beef was taken away and given to the American government.

    So basically the U.S. is able to export beef from cows older than 30 months of age which carry a much bigger risk of carrying bovine spongiform encephalopathy to South Korea without any restrictions even if BSE is found in the beef the South Korean government would have no power to quarantine the BSE infected beef.

    Now a big argument on the US side is that there is little to no chance of BSE being in their beef because they have banned recycled meat and bones from cows to be fed to cows. But, there is a loop hole which allows the meat industry to feed the recycled meat from cows to pigs, and then the recycled meat from pigs to cows, etc. thus leaving the chance for BSE causing prions to come back to cows and then infecting humans with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

    MickyTrain · June 11th, 2008 at 1:33 AM

  • I cant wait to go to the next one. Beef is bring down government

    Gary Carleton · June 11th, 2008 at 1:36 AM

  • It’s like this: 2MB visits his good buddy in the U.S., comes back and tells people “Right, we’ll be importing any and all U.S. beef, it’s safe. We can trust U.S. regulators.” Then that video of a downer cirulates and people say – understandably – “WTF, I don’t want my kids eating that at school.” 2MB, well he’s the bulldozer, the CEO president, and people will eat what he damn well tells them to eat.

    Then, an approval rating of 17%, and this. Not propaganda, no brainwashing, no whining, gentle readers.

    For better understanding see:

    jay · June 11th, 2008 at 1:43 AM

  • The Counterpunch story is misleading about Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in the U.S. It is not linked to Mad Cow. Read this:

    Jay is wrong. This is entirely about propaganda and brainwashing, as is the case with other recent anti-American demonstrations in Korea.

    Anonymous · June 11th, 2008 at 4:27 AM

  • Micky had better list his sources, because to the best of my knowledge his allegations are untrue.

    Mizar5 · June 11th, 2008 at 4:29 AM

  • Mizar5, search up “korea beef trade” on google news and if you browse through the many articles you can see that in the latest beef trade agreement, South Korea essentially lost all their control over the importation of American beef.

    What are you, some little child and can’t do a few minutes of research but need everything spooned to your infantile-like mind?

    MickyTrain · June 11th, 2008 at 4:44 AM

  • “In the face of massive demonstrations, South Korea’s government this week backed away from implementing an agreement that would have allowed virtually unrestricted market access for U.S. beef. South Koren officials asked that the deal be modified to allow only beef from cattle 30 months of age or younger. But Deputy U.S. Ag Secretary Chuck Conner told Brownfield Thursday, that as far as the Bush administration is concerned, a deal’s a deal.”

    The quote above is from:

    Shows that the trade agreement in it’s current form gives the South Korean government no power, while the US government basically has unrestricted reign in exporting beef.

    “Instead of eliminating the NAFTA investor-state mechanism, our government seems intent on expanding it through bilateral trade agreements,” Sinclair said. “New agreements with Peru, Colombia and South Korea contain versions of NAFTA’s chapter 11 rules, which permit foreign investors to challenge government measures that allegedly diminish the value of their investments.”

    The above quote from:

    The quote above is showing that the new trade agreements being produced from the North American Free Trade Agreement is assembling agreements which allow the industry in North America to challenge the government that they are exporting to whenever they do anything that “allegedly” diminishes the value of their products. So basically these beef industries in North America can challenge governments and try to force them to their will on alleged assumptions.

    MickyTrain · June 11th, 2008 at 5:06 AM

  • I am not sure why this has gotten strictly labeled as a mad cow thing by the people and the media except for the fact that Koreans seem to present one issue sometimes when it is about something much deeper.

    From the Koreans I know, this is much more than about beef. It is about the government not abiding by the wishes and beliefs of the public, thereby stirring up alarm about the possible re-entry of a dictatorship via this president.

    He is all about business without regard to the health, well-being, and short and long term interests of Koreans and Korea, according to them.

    They disagree with him about the mad-cow thing and they are horrified at the fact that he wants to make the canal which would connect all the rivers.

    While on the surface, that might sound like a good business decision, it would destroy the pristine rivers that have not been contaminated by industry and it would affect the areas through which this is done in a negative way.

    In the long run, it would be a bad business decision because Korea is a small country which can be destroyed easily environmentally, and in the long term therefore, financially for a variety of reasons due to the building of the canal.

    This is about the legitimate fears and post-traumatic stress syndrome alarms that are going off in the minds of the Koreans who remember what the dictatorship was like. The youth may not have had that experience but they have heard and felt the residual effects of it from their parents, grandparents, and others who experienced it.

    I am sure that some could also be protesting just to follow along or for the excitement of it all as well.

    Tish · June 11th, 2008 at 5:10 AM

  • GOOD GOD! that looks like over 100,000 + people at that march.

    @Tish—so are you saying that the korean people are using mad cow diease as a target to get the new South Korean president out of office, instead of targeting him directly.

    Why are they afraid to directly target him?

    cjlatina · June 11th, 2008 at 6:45 AM

  • “From the Koreans I know, this is much more than about beef. It is about the government not abiding by the wishes and beliefs of the public, thereby stirring up alarm about the possible re-entry of a dictatorship via this president.”

    Yeah Tish it might seem that way but then one can argue why don’t Koreans protest everything American, how about they stop sending their children to American universities. I mean first it will be beef then what. Nevertheless I feel and believe maybe it would be a good time for troop withdrawal as I have a funky feeling that may be next.

    dwilliams · June 11th, 2008 at 7:32 AM

  • This is more about being part of the masses than it is about wide spread political protest.

    It is fashionable now to be part of the protests. Got to have the “What happened to you at the protest last night?” story else you don’t belong.

    40% of the protesters probably think FTA stands for the Foreign Teachers Association, 60 % overwhelmingly voted LMB into office, 80% can’t afford to eat Korean beefanyway, 10 % are trying to get their picture in the paper, 15% are drunken men happy as shit to be able to cop so many feels without having to pay for the subway, 15% are directly or indirectly financually involved with the sales of Korean beef/candles/paper cups, and the rest were simply trying to cross the street to get home when they got sweept away in the river of bodies impeding their way.

    They bolster the masses by wheeling in their babies in strollers, line elemetary kids up on stage holding posters they can’t understand for photo-op sessions and wonder if they should be chanting anti-US beef slogans now, or anti-canal project slogans, or anti-LMB slogans or…….

    That’s why it is important to show up early for the protests, so you have a chance to figure out what it is you are veheminantly opposed to today before you beat a cop with a pipe, set fire to something, attack a bus, then throw yourself against a riot police’s sheild while the cameras are clicking and scream bloody injustice.

    hitest · June 11th, 2008 at 7:37 AM

  • Like lemmings making their way towards the cliff.

    Mark · June 11th, 2008 at 9:46 AM

  • How many people (showed above) do you all think actually voted for LMB???? With it being known that approx. half of Korea voted on election day, who do everyone vote for? Why didn’t anyone else vote? If people are sooooo pissed off, then why did they sit on their arses on election day.

    Obviously this doesn’t refer to everyone, and for those who did vote for LMB, they do have a reason to be upset. As for the people who might not have voted (I’m thinking about all of the young faces in the crowd), a difference could have possibly been made. So maybe next term these non-voters will actually try to make a difference, giving them actual reasons to back-up any concerns they mgiht have!!!

    On a side note, has anyone ever been to Costco and seen people line up for the free samples? I’m sure Costco is serving Australian beef right? I never hear a Korean ask what kind of beef is being cooked. I only see them stabbing as much meat as possible with their toothpicks.

    Hmmmm · June 11th, 2008 at 10:08 AM

  • […] This is a shot of the candlelight vigil protests at Gwanghwamun the other night, regarding the beef over US beef. Nathan also has found a good shot of the same. […] » Blog Archive » That’s a lot of people pissed about US beef! · June 11th, 2008 at 10:12 AM

  • I wonder if the astronauts could have seen them from

    but seriously so many people….that has to be like million people.

    also the pics of the march are kind of pretty.

    cjlatina · June 11th, 2008 at 10:35 AM

  • As a parent and a teacher of young children, I can explain it something like this:

    It’s like a little kid who is fussing about something and won’t shut up. The kid and the parent may believe that what he is fussing about is the issue when, in reality, it’s about something totally different, like, for example, the kid is exhausted and hungry and just needs to eat and go to bed.

    The parent and the kid are just focusing on the one issue and, for some reason, are having difficulty pin pointing (figuring out) communicating, and solving the issue.

    Or like a person who comes from a screwed up home, lives his/her life, has problems that are really interfering with his/her life, and needs help identifying just why his life is all screwed up.

    Also, there has been some suggestion among some Koreans that I know that there is some leftist/communist connection to some of this, but since I couldn’t understand the explanation even though it was explained to me 2-3 times, I cannot confirm, speculate, or explain it. Sorry about that.

    Tish · June 11th, 2008 at 11:34 AM

  • This is more about being part of the masses than it is about wide spread political protest.

    It is fashionable now to be part of the protests. Got to have the “What happened to you at the protest last night?” story else you don’t belong.

    Bingo. Give the man a cigar.

    William G · June 11th, 2008 at 1:56 PM

  • I think that the Koreans are just as p*ssed off about the government’s attitude toward importing beef as they are about the potential (minimal) dangers. Yes, the chance of catching Mad Cow Disease from American beef under the current import stipulations is very small (and that’s being extremely generous) but it exists nonetheless… and I think the Koreans aren’t too thrilled with the government’s insensitivity in dealing with that issue. I get the impression that the govt. is dangerously out of touch with the voters, and that’s one of the key factors here, along with the misinformation and the ‘trendiness’.

    And I can understand the latter. I mean, looking at those pictures, it does look pretty cool. In the words of Barney Gumble, ‘now THERE’S your inflated sense of self-esteem!’

    baekgom84 · June 11th, 2008 at 2:35 PM

  • I think these photos make the Swiss Embassy nervous.

    Brian · June 11th, 2008 at 7:48 PM

  • I’m in the US military and I frequent Korean restaurants because I love Korean food. I could care less if my COW that I eat is from America, Korea, or Australia. As long as its delicous I’m happy. If it kills me then oh well….I had a delicous meal at least. That would be ironic if Koreans died from cows slaughtered in Korea. Or what about the bird flu??? Koreans don’t protest about that. Independant thinking happens on a small scale in Korea….

    Sojuman · June 11th, 2008 at 8:02 PM

  • Cjlatina (and anyone else),

    (Just a note first to be clear: I am no expert, I am not over there, and I can’t read Korean. I am just going by what is being said by Korean people, born and raised in Korea and who are currently living here in the U.S. who are educated, stay current, and know what it was like when there was a dictator. They still maintain contact with relatives in Korea and visit occasionally.

    About your question, I’m saying that one “small” issue lead to another “small” issue made bigger by stupid people who just protested for fun and excitement and other people who followed just to be following or because they began to understand what it was about. It started with:

    The lack of the president’s response to concern over the mad cow issue. The government did not explain to them about the low risk and did not seem to care about their concerns and well-being in regards to it. He just did like Koreans did in the 1970’s about concerns about food-“Just shut up and eat it!!!”).

    The government did not seem to understand and care about their concerns about the canal. The people are proud of and appreciate the clear waters in some of the areas of Korea and want to keep them that way. They understand that in the long run, it is also not good for Korea financially, health-wise, etc.

    That lead to protests. With each new issue, which in the beginning had seemed to be just one issue standing alone, Koreans started seeing the real problem which was the president’s overall behavior and attitude which resembled way too much the dictatorships that they had known. This sparked great alarm with the older people who remembered.

    Somewhere in all of this, too, there supposedly is a leftist (Communist) element which has lead to concerns about that. It seems that the issues range from one extreme issue to the polar opposite extreme, like a landscape.

    With all of the people protesting now regardless of their intentions, it has created a domino effect, fear, and a sense of chaos.

    I hope all of this somehow makes sense, is accurate, and is helpful to you. How do y’all feel personally? Do you feel safe?

    Tish · June 11th, 2008 at 9:41 PM

  • I credit Micky for intellectual honesty – because so few actually support their arguments with facts (the snide remark was unnecessary, however.)

    I suppose he might interpret the agreement in the sense that the Korean govt is giving over control in beef exports to US beef exporters, but that’s just an interpretation.

    Remember, the US is also giving up some control, and must also fulfil the provisions of the agreement as well. Additionally, the Korean consumer still holds the key, and the Korean govt is infamous for renegotiating.

    Mizar5 · June 11th, 2008 at 10:17 PM

  • Sojuman, what kind of mindset is that? Oh if I eat beef infected with the prions that cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease I’m all ok and don’t really give an F just as long as it tasted good. Lol, come on man!!

    What you need to understand is vCJD is not something that kills you instantly it has a very long incubation period in humans, sometimes taking up to 20 years for the symptoms to appear. That is why even though people at the moment are saying, “oh there are only a few cases of vCJD it’s nothing to worry about”, wait about 10 more years and I guarantee there will be many more cases popping up. Also a lot of times when patients die due to progressive decaying of their brain’s nerve cells doctors will attribute it to other diseases, like Alzheimer’s.

    Sojuman, you say you don’t care if you die from vCJD just as long as the meal was good? Well what if it happened to one of your family members, like your daughter? For example, the case of the young African American woman who is only in her 20’s and has never been out of this country and contracted vCJD now she’s slowly dying as her brain is just degenerating into mush, with no f’ing cure in sight.

    Link to article pertaining to young woman & vCJD:

    MickyTrain · June 12th, 2008 at 5:13 AM

  • Mickey Train…there are so many things in this life to kill you. I’m scared as hell of flying in planes. The only beef I fear is if a huge bull is charging at me. Oh yeah….FAN DEATH also scares the shit out of me…. :)

    Sojuman · June 12th, 2008 at 5:43 PM

  • @Tish– I hope you weren’t offended by my question and I wasn’t targeting you or anything.

    I am also not there (I’m in the US too). I just thought you knew more than me, so I was just asking a question. sorry.

    about your question—-I never feel safe because there are so many things you can die from nowadays and so easily from.

    cjlatina · June 15th, 2008 at 8:41 AM

  • No problem cjlatina. Thanks :D I was not offended by anything. In fact, it surprised me that you wrote that. You must remember me as being very sensitive which is so very true.

    My daughter just got a guinea pig about a month ago. I have never had one before. I have been observing it and it runs at everything out of its fear. I don’t know if I always run at everything because some important things I have to face or make myself face. However, I am beginning to identify with him so much. He runs away to his hiding place. I run to my room :D

    I didn’t mean to give anyone the impression that I was offended. I guess that I felt the need to clarify my situation because I care about being balanced, clear, and honest when I write even though I am not always good at it.

    Also, I felt the need to clarify because I seen so many attacks on this site and experienced some myself that I kind of felt like a “beaten dog” waiting to get beaten again. I never know what to expect on here.

    But like I said, I am very sensitive and I also often take things personally when maybe I shouldn’t. Everyone views, feels, behaves, and expresses themselves differently. Maybe it’s just not personal the way people are on here.

    Thank you for your apology, explanation, and comments. I have enjoyed you on here :D Have a great day.

    Tish · June 15th, 2008 at 10:18 PM

  • I also relate so well to what you were saying about not feeling safe. I used to spend all my time in the doctor’s office. Now, I just rebelled and decided to live my life full force without obsessive worry. I just focus on what’s important, fun, yet with reason and let go of the fear. With all that previous obsessive worry, it was like I had died anyway. I didn’t have a life.

    Tish · June 15th, 2008 at 10:26 PM

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