These days, people are trembling in fear of US beef. Some people even think they might die from eating US beef.
The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Korea recently announced that an Free Trade Agreement (FTA) agreement was arranged with plans to expand Korea's export industries. This agreement was made during the eight days of discussion between the South Korean and US high level officials from April 11 to 18.
Both countries agreed to import all parts of the beef from cattle of all ages. For the precaution of Mad Cow Disease, there will be changes if the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) intensifies the feed management rule.
To this agreement, many people participated in candlelight vigils to withdrawal the importation of US beef. Candlelight vigils have been occurring several times a week all around the country. Because of this agreement, President Lee's approval rating has also decreased.
To understand the student body's opinion on this hot issue, the Hanyang Journal surveyed nearly 800 Hanyang University (HYU) students from May 9 to 18. Like most public opinions, about 80 percent of HYU students disagree with this trade pact for several reasons.
First of all, they fear that eating US beef will have negative health consequences due to what they think is a risk of Mad Cow Disease. The statement that Koreans have a genetic factor that can easily be infected by Mad Cow Disease also made them feel uneasy.
Also, another major reason for their fear is that they think the US quarantine system is not reliable. US Cable News Network (CNN) reported that the food management system which guarantees US beef safety is breaking down through the report they made with the ?reaking down US food system?on May 14. So, antipathy is continuously expanding more and more.
However, 12 percent of students support the importation of US beef. Their main reason for approving this is that Korea needs to avoid trade conflicts to successfully carry out the Korea-US FTA. And secondly, they have made assertions that eating beef should be an individual? choice.
But there is a noticeable irony in the survey. Among the supporters of this agreement, about a half of them answered that they will not eat the US beef. This reflects that even the supporters fear Mad Cow Disease.
On the other hand, according to the survey, about 80 percent of HYU students received their information about the US beef from mediums such as the internet, television, or newspaper. The Internet is the easiest way to acquire information, so most people are trying to learn about US beef through the internet.
But because there is so much information on the internet, there are also possibilities of getting wrong information as well. In accordance with the survey, HYU students knew that the general opinion of Koreans can be dangerously influenced by a few uninformed sources. So, people should not trust all the information on the internet and should try to be responsible in looking up the facts for themselves.
Another impact of this trade agreement has been a greater dissatisfaction and distrust of the present presidential office. Some people even want the president to be impeached. About a third of HYU students said that they think this change of political standpoint arose by lifting the ban on the US beef.
This FTA agreement has been very controversial, and authorities of this issue should be careful to act wisely and make rational decisions regarding this trade.