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The Minds of Consumers

Posted July. 03, 2008 06:40,   


The TV commercial jingle, “I Just Can,” is very popular among Koreans this year. It starts with the words, “I just can smile when people ask me about marriage/I just can smile a little, looking at the growing wrinkles on my face ...." SKT first aired the TV commercial for its new mobile service in March, and its popularity has led to numerous spin-offs. Songwriter Kim Yeon-jeong reportedly wrote the song to uplift Koreans and give them a sense of hope.

But the song of hope has been distorted into a song of desperateness by the liberal radicals who have organized and led the protests against the import of American beef. Making puns of President Lee’s April 21 comments that [Koreans] can refuse American beef whenever they want and just avoid buying it, the radicals’ version reads, “When affected with mad cow disease, we can just die.” What the president really meant was the ultimate decision on whether to buy or not lies with consumers.

A beef importer at A-Mart recently resumed selling American beef at its outlet in Seoul after nine months. It sold out 200-kilograms of the meat in only five hours on the first day. Wednesday, it received phone orders from across the nation, which amounted to more than 200 kilograms. Generally, consumers tend to like it. First of all, American meat costs one third less than an equivalent amount of Korean meat. If people really support and buy the allegation that American beef causes humans to die of mad cow disease in 10 years like the radicals say, how can the protesters explain this zeal for the meat?

Are consumers naive? I don’t think so. They can tell right from wrong on issues concerning the import of American beef. What really matters is that those buying the meat constitute an important voice of our nation. In other words, the violent radicals who have turned the peaceful roads of Seoul into a battlefield every night are not the only voice we should heed. Still, the radicals do not show any sign of abandoning their sabotage against the beef. Wednesday, for example, members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions protested in front of A-Mart, halting sales temporarily. Numerous threatening calls reportedly came in. It’s the privilege and right of consumers to decide whether to buy and consume American beef. What entitlements do the labor union and radicals have to deprive consumers of their choices?

Editorial Writer Gwon Sun-taek