The violence which has ripped apart South Korea over the issue of importing beef from the United States continues to upset its government. President Lee Myung-bak assumed a tough response to street demonstrations and candlelight rallies which he regards as disruptive to law and order. He insisted “protests challenging the national identity and the illegal rallies should be distinguished from policy critics and should be sternly deal with.” He blamed extremists for creating the turmoil. His government has obtained agreement from the United States that no beef from cattle over 30 months old will be exported to Korea.
From the vantage point of the United States, most Americans are bewildered by the violence of the demonstrations and the concern South Koreans have about beef from the United States. We understand there are worries about disease, but it confuses the average American who most probably eats the same beef and wonders what the beef is all about.