S Korean US Beef Deal: A War on the Public

SOUTH KOREA - The South Korean government's decision to resume US beef imports brought about huge political tension on Tuesday with opponent parties threatening strikes and naming the move a 'war on the public'.
calendar icon 29 May 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

According to the Yonhap news, South Korea's agriculture minister was to officially post notification of new beef import terms later in the day, under which most American meat cuts will reenter the country for the first time in almost five years. Imports are expected to resume in 2-3 days as the new standard goes into effect.

The news agency has reported that opponent parties immediately demanded that the plan be retracted, threatening to take "every possible measure" against the government and the ruling party.

"We will be forced to make a critical decision if the government pushes through its plan to announce resumption of beef imports," said Sohn Hak-kyu, leader of the main opposition United Democratic Party. "If the government and the ruling party ignore this warning, we will come up with every possible measure to stop them." Minor opposition parties followed the lead.

"This is a declaration of war on the public," the ultra-conservative Liberty Forward Party said in a statement. "We will not tolerate such a threat to our people." "We will take to the streets to protect the health and the rights of South Koreans," the progressive Democratic Labor Party said, adding its leaders will go on a hunger strike.

Striving to soothe the tension, the ruling Grand National Party (GNP) emphasized American beef is safe to eat and sufficient measures have been set up for the local cattle industry.

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