A Firestorm in Korea over U.S. Beef
After more than two years of negotiation, false starts, and delay, Korea announced in April its intention to fully open its market to imports of U.S. beef, subject to finalization of health-related import regulations. However, over the past month, public protests that began peacefully on May 2 have grown in size and become increasingly violent, despite a formal apology by President Lee Myung-bak over his failure to communicate sufficiently with the body politic. In light of the protests, a drastic drop in President Lee’s approval ratings, and a delay of finalization of the regulations governing imports, it is uncertain when U.S. beef will return to Korean shelves. As Insight went to press, Korea was seeking U.S. support for a pledge from exporters not to ship beef from cattle over 30 months to Korea.