Demonstrations In Korea

A pastor recently posted a video by a Christian journalist about the “candle demonstrations” that are taking place en masse in Korea right now. They are protesting the FTA agreement between Korea and the U.S. that they claim allows the importation of beef from cows infected with Mad Cow Disease. In his talk, the journalist argues that there is practically no chance of being infected with the disease by eating imported beef, and contends that the demonstrations are orchestrated by North Korean sympathizers whose aim is to topple the new right-wing government by creating chaos.

I don’t necessarily agree with his conclusions but the facts he presents about Mad Cow Disease seem very convincing.

Mad Cow Disease spreads when cows are fed the remnants of other slaughtered cows to hasten their growth. Since this practice was stopped, no human beings have been infected. There have been only three cases of human infection in the U.S; none of the three were longtime U.S. residents, but came from countries known to have cattle with Mad Cow Disease.

Only cows older than 30 months are infected with the disease, and the prions that cause the disease are only found in the spinal column, not the flesh. 20% of meat consumed in the U.S. comes from cows older than 30 months. The disease does not affect cows younger than 30 months, but there have been rare occasions when prions were found in the first and the last parts of the vertebrae. So when ribs are sold, these two portions are cut off to ensure safety.

The demonstrators have no rational cause. I think the real motivation behind the tens of thousands of demonstrators is anger at the South Korean and U.S. governments. The newly elected President filled high government offices with wealthy people who some suspect of amassing their fortunes through dubious means. Koreans are also angry because they feel that the government was forced into an unfair deal by the U.S.

If so, they should protest against the new regime in Korea or the U.S. government, not against imported beef, which is based on fault and inaccurate information. It makes them look foolish to the rest of the world.

The pastor who posted the video eventually removed it after he received hate mail and his church web page was filled with remarks attacking him. He was afraid that his post might harm the house church movement by creating negative reactions. Apparently there are people who try to muzzle people with different opinions from their own.

We live in an age when rumors spread instantaneously through the Internet and TV. We have seen people’s lives and companies’ reputations destroyed by groundless rumors. Satan is called the Father of Lies (John 8:44). People who spread falsehoods are children of Satan and bring destruction. I hope that Christians at least make sure that bad things said about a person or group are indeed true before they believe them.

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