One Nation United Against Belts Beef : Koreans teach the world how to protest.
America, listen up: You may be a global superpower, but when it comes to protesting, you ain’t got nothing on South Korea. Seriously, these people know how to get things done. For the past two months Koreans have taken to the streets in droves to protest their beef with U.S. beef. Candles have been lit, city squares have been filled, and voices have been raised in an effort to stop the Korean government from allowing U.S. beef into the country. Many Koreans fear American beef products could be tainted with Mad Cow disease and believe their elected officials aren’t doing enough to protect their safety. Though only two cases of mad cow were reported in U.S. were reported in the last 5 years, the paranoia has spread throughout Korea like the Avian Flu (wait, that actually happened). Even my first-grade students know about “crazy cows.” So the rallies continue, and they continue to be effective. Yesterday the entire South Korean cabinet tendered their resignation in an effort to re-instill the public’s trust in the government. Though a remarkable gesture, the protesters were not satisfied – thousands more gathered outside Seoul’s City Hall to voice their displeasure with the government, and more specifically, South Korea’s “CEO President” Lee Myung Bak. Last night huge shipping containers were filled with sandbags and welded together to create a makeshift wall to keep the crowd of 100,000 from overtaking the Blue House, South Korea’s seat of power. And it appears there is no end in sight – which is good, because I love watching bandanna-sportin’ college kids get sprayed with high powered fire hoses. But more than that, these protests remind us that citizens, when united, have the power to hold the government accountable – a fact that may have been lost on many Americans over – I dunno – the last eight years or so. Think about it. In less than 2 months, South Koreans managed to reshuffle the entire government cabinet – not over war, but over cows. Now that’s saying something.