Thursday, May 08, 2008

Lee's problem with "Beefgate"

As a follow-up to our discussions on Lee Myung-bak, I found this op-ed on
To be honest, I don’t know the political leanings of this news site. But it seems fairly balanced to me.

The author essentially says the recent netizen campaign over “Beefgate” (that’s my term, unless someone else has coined it first) is preposterous and part of an unfair and malicious strategy to uproot the government. To be sure, however, the Lee administration is certainly not without fault. In fact, it has a lot of them. His inability to legitimize the conservative government after years of being in the shadows coupled with his questionable appointments have served to significantly erode his approval ratings.

I've been trying to tie "Beefgate" into our discussions on nationalism but finding it difficult.  My tentative analysis leads me to view this issue through the lens of South Korea's shifting demographics and anti-Americanism.  While I'm sure many of these netizen activists truly oppose Lee and the GNP, my inclination is to think these problems are equally exacerbated by young Koreans' anxieties over the strengthening of the US-ROK alliance. 
This analysis may seem rudimentary or obvious to some. But we've seen -- in our literature and through our experiences here in the US -- the power of nationalism to affect state decisions. Lee would be wise to continue to listen and address the concerns of his citizens.


Inyeop Lee said...

I think the criticism from the Korean public is too massive to be discounted as a political strategy.
President Lee made clear change in the beef import policy, and the Korean public felt serious insecurity about the possiblity of the mad cow disease.

Joo-Eun Kim said...

I think American beef is safe if the distributors obey the regulations when they export to Korea. South Korea activists and netizen are using this American beef importing issue to achieve other political objectives such as anti-FTA and anti-Lee regime. However, FTA is good for Korean economy in a long term and importing beef is a necessary step for other import/export for Korea economy. I do not think Korea people with strong nationalism see this fact. I hope Korean people do not try to throw the regime which was chosen by election that easily. Then no administration will have legitimacy or authority in Korea.