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Meat Importer Suing Broadcaster Over US Beef Scare

Posted August. 11, 2009 08:25,   


A domestic meat importer yesterday filed a lawsuit against the broadcast network MBC and five producers of an investigative news program for reporting false facts about U.S. beef.

Park Chang-kyu, president of A Meat and meat and restaurant chain Orae Dream, filed the lawsuit with the Seoul Southern District Court. He is seeking about 300 million won (240,000 U.S. dollars) in damages against MBC, five producers of “PD Notebook,” and actress Kim Min-sun.

“Our companies suffered about 500 million won (410,000 dollars) in operating losses due to distortion of facts on American beef by the MBC program ‘PD Notebook.’”

A Meat is the first importer of American beef to sue the network over its misinformation on American beef presented in the program.

“We suffered huge damages because the MBC report discouraged consumers from eating American beef, forcing dozens of Orae Dream restaurants to shut down. The candlelight vigils also delayed our beef import schedules by more than a month,” he said. “We’ve suffered 1.5 billion won (1.22 million dollars) in damages, but I seek just 300 million won (240,000 dollars) in compensation for now.”

“American beef importers in Korea have suffered about 300 billion won (240 million dollars) in collective damages, but I understand companies are taking steps to file individual lawsuits since they incurred differing amounts of losses.”

In May last year, Kim on his Web site uploaded a posting saying, “It is insane to import American beef with bones since it could cause mad cow disease. I’d rather eat potassium cyanide.”

Judge Moon Seong-kwan at the Seoul Central District Court decided yesterday that the court will prepare for hearings on five MBC staff, including former chief producer Cho Neung-hee, and hold formal hearings once a month from Sept. 9.

The five were booked without physical detention on the charge of intentionally distorting and exaggerating facts about the risk of mad cow disease in American beef.

Hence, the court will likely release a ruling on the case in the first half of next year. Of the five defendants, Cho was the only one who attended yesterday’s court hearing.

Moon said, “We will separately question scientists and government negotiators for beef imports, who will serve as witnesses in the trial,” adding, “Both parties must finalize the lists of witnesses they seek to call in by Aug. 24, the date of a second trial.”