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[Opinion] Hamburger Paradox

Posted December. 25, 2003 23:03,   


There is a saying, “Communism does not exist in countries where there are McDonald’s restaurants.” You must all be familiar with the giant international enterprise McDonald’s.

A McDonald’s restaurant was opened in 1982 in Yugoslavia as the first foreign hamburger restaurant among all communist countries. Following Yugoslavia, McDoanld’s restaurants were opened in Moskva and Beijing in 1990 and 1992, respectively.

McDonald’s may soon be found in North Korea, as well. Under an eccentric order of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, university cafeterias in North Korea serve hamburgers to students. “Even though the country has encountered financial difficulties, I want to put utmost efforts to make sure our next generation grows fit and healthy. That’s why we introduced such internationally recognized high quality bread,” Kim was quoted as saying in the North Korean No-dong Daily.

Hamburger shops have surfaced in downtown Pyongyang. Although they are not foreign burger shops, North Korean people will soon be curious to know what the taste of a burger would be like in western countries. However, it sounds quite awkward to hear North Korea’s hamburger promotion these days, as the world is fearful of the mad cow disease. The beef in McDonald’s hamburgers in Korea is safe from mad cow disease, and it is 100 percent from Australia. However, the stock price of McDonald’s and its burger sales have dropped significantly. It is because McDonald’s is the biggest buyer of beef in the United States. The first victim of the mad cow disease, a 20 year-old British man, was also found to be infected of the disease after eating his childhood favorite, a beef burger.

Hamburgers and mad cow disease have been closely linked to humans, nature, and civilization. Hamburgers, a popular type of fast food, are a symbol of mass and mechanical production in the modern society. In such a modernized society, herbivores have also lost their peace. As the prices of grain feeds escalate, owners of cattle farms diverted their attention into animal feeds made of remnants of slaughtered cows. Tragically, 75 percent of cows had to eat their own species until the Food and Drug Administration in the United States banned animal feeds in 1997 in a bid to prevent mad cow disease. Arrogance of humans who pursue maximum profits, ignorance of the provision of nature, and blind faith of humans on technology are, hence, the causes of the mad cow disease.

Mad cow disease is a very fearful disease since it has no cure, and it takes a long time to show the symptoms. Even if we find a cow infected with the mad cow disease, we have no clues on the cause of the infection unless we investigate the entire history of the cow’s diet. It goes the same to humans on mad cow disease. We have no option but to investigate what the infected person has been eating for the past 10 to 40 years. Well, humans are now faced with such a slow disease as a consequence of pursuing fast food. I wonder if it is nature’s revenge against humans.

Kim Soon-deok, yuri@donga.com