As I watch my Sunday dose of the old glube tube, I get a quick glance of people rioting, and screaming at the police in South Korea. I see fires burning, pipes swinging, people yelling and screaming. I eagerly wait for the main topic of the story to return, and the two minute commercial break to end.
Then my mind begins to wonder. Did one of their officers shoot an innocent man 50 times and kill him, or did something even worse happen?
Well as the story unfolded, I learned that thousands of South Korean protesters (15,000 to be exact), were rioting against their governments decision to resume importing beef from the United States after a five year ban was imposed due to Mad Cow disease. And have been doing so for weeks.
Scary, yes? In fact this instantly gave me a dose of deja vu. I'm not talking about last weeks tomato scare, or the fact that the US used to be the third largest supplier of beef to South Korea and lost a $754 million annual market when it was closed. No, what's more scary is the fact that the Koreans seem to be paying attention to something we've forgotten. After all, it was just only last September that Cargill Inc. recalled 1 million pounds of beef for the second time in a month due to E. coli bacteria contamination.
Here, silence after the initial furor died down, while over there, mass social action.
Kim Eun-joo, promoter of an online petition against the decision which has already collected more than 100,000 signatures explains: "The treaty is unjust because it endangers the health of my fellow citizens. It does not mention safety controls, and permits any kind of meat to be exported to our country.
This is truly amazing and if nothing else, one would think it provides an eye opening opportunity for many Americans to think about the quality of our food. But unfortunately most of us just don't seem to get it.