Restaurants in Korea are getting a taste of what expats receive on an annual basis: sweeping changes of rules done quickly with little organization and thought and no guidelines on implementing them.

They’re upset and baffled by the new regulation requiring them to label the origin of beef on each menu item and side dish. Sometimes restaurants use beef or parts in their soups and what not from different countries, depending on the market price that week. So that means they have to post a new sign or change their menu each time Chilean beef is a better deal than Australian beef and vice versa.

I understand their frustration. At first, I thought, “So what’s the big deal,” but, yeah, after working in restaurants and the myriad of things to take care of just to stay afloat, I can see how this would be annoying, especially since no specific guidelines have been put out on these regulations which take effect next week.

Besides, it’s another way to ensure that even though the market is opening for American beef, it sure ain’t gonna get much footing here.


On another note, I stated on the podcast last night the stupidity of the protesters, but not for the same reasons a lot are criticizing them for.

Yes, American beef has its issues. Compared to the real problems American beef has, BSE is low on my priority list. I’m more worried about e. coli, antibiotics and hormones.

Instead of concentrating on the REAL problems, the protesters latched on the phantom issue of 30-month-old cows. So, this is what South Korea did. They re-opened negotiations, which hurt them internationally as a trustworthy trading partner. I mean, who wants to negotiate and sign contracts with a country that’s going to alter the contract after it’s signed? For anyone who’s worked in Korea for a while, you know that this practice is as common as eating kimchi for breakfast.

When they re-opened negotiations, they insisted on restricting American beef imports to cows younger than 30 months, as if cows over 30 months are a bigger risk. I think it’s another one of those weird superstitions they latched on to, similar to the previous stipulation that only boneless beef could come in, thinking that a brain disease was present only in cow bones.

The American side, obviously, was surprised.

“You’re re-opening negotiations–hurting your international prestige–for THIS?? Okay, whatever, no problem.”

The Americans didn’t give a shit. Thirty-month-old beef is not a big deal to change. But the Korean side took it as a humongous victory over Big Bad America. They bragged how they brought America down on its knees for — um, cattle less than 30 months old.

Now, if any of the protesters or anyone in government had any critical thinking skills, you know, better than the critical thinking skills that believe in fan death, and cared about the real health of their population, they would have used the body blow to their interntational standing to negotiate the following two points:

1. Label Grass or Grain. This is done voluntarily by some producers in America. Label whether a cow was raised naturally on grass or finished in a grain lot. I prefer not to eat grain-fed beef because that’s where most of our bad beef comes from. First of all, a cow’s stomach is not designed to digest corn. Combine this with the overcrowding at grain lots, and you have a lot of sick cows with rampant diahrrea. To combat this, feed lots inject the cows with antibiotics. And we know what happens when antibiotics are treated as casual drugs–stronger resistant bacterial mutations emerge. So, I’m not much for doped up cattle slipping and sliding through diahrrea all day. Not too appetizing.

2. Slow down the production line. I think I read somewhere that when beef is prepared for the European Union in slaughterhouses, they slow down the production line per EU regulations. American slaughterhouses are notorious for being as hurried as a Korean Chinese take-out guy on a motorscooter. These superfast kill, drain, gut and quarter lines make it difficult to avoid accidents, such as dismemberment of humans and poop getting into the food supply. As a side note, that is why irradiation is such an issue in the government and why the food industry is behind it. Rather than clean up their act, they’d rather just sterilize dirty food. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have no poo in my food than sterilized poo. So anyway, the Korean government could have demanded that production lines slow down when processing meat for Korea.

So that, basically, is why the protesters were stupid.

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