Friday, October 31, 2008
The BBC reports today that the "melamine scandal" has widened. As an American who has lived and worked in South Korea for the past twelve years, I feel obligated to comment on this. Why? Of course, it is because of the "Mad Cow Disease Scandal" that gripped South Korea for two months or more, bringing nightly candlelight vigils and almost paralyzing government. Anyone reading the mainstream press or postings on Korean internet portals would conclude that "Mad Cow Disease" posed an imminent threat to Korean public health. That widespread belief is what brought forth weeks of candlelight vigils. Although the health threat posed to Korea by the melamine scandal is far larger than that of the "Mad Cow Disease" scandal, there have as yet been no candlelight vigils or demonstrations about melamine. Read the BBC report and think about this issue for a moment. The BBC reported that, according to the state media in China, the toxic chemical melamine is probably being routinely added to Chinese animal feed. The "Mad Cow Disease" candlelight vigils here in Korea were spurred by inaccurate reporting and rumors. The "Melamine scandal" on the other hand, is based on facts. This raises the question of whether the Korean public really cares about health standards. If so, there should be nationwide candlelight vigils!