Update: The original thread got the most hits, almost 7000 so far, among the dozens posted yesterday at Net Ease.
Often the Chinese, especially in a national or widely read forum, praise actions in foreign countries as an oblique criticism of the Chinese government. The message in this ode to people power in Korea isn’t hard to discern at all.
I’ll begin with the original post:
On April 18, 2008 began the “beef disturbance”,” which passed through several changes, finally brewing into a political typhoon, unexpected not only from South Koreans but from ordinary people. A little bit of beef, at best a business dispute, has quickly and unexpectedly evolved into major unrest. The South Korean prime minister and the cabinet plan collective resignations, resulting in a large-scale reorganization of the President’s office. President Lee Myung-bak apologized personally to the South Korean people and finally pushed the powerful US to sit down and sign a new agreement.
It must be said that South Korean President Lee Myung-bak does not have a long time to wield political power, and with the world’s economy facing a crisis, he wholeheartedly wants to achieve an economic breakthrough, seeking to raise his prestige in the hearts of the people. It is fair to say that he had good intentions in trying to get the people to trust in his governing authority, but because of small negligence, the people’s scruples and concerns were overlooked. This has finally brought about a political crisis for the administration with fears that this could become a permanent millstone.
South Korea’s “beef disturbance” has profound pedagogical meaning, giving the whole world three striking revelations:
First, it makes us realize that people power is endless, the call for justice strong, and one or two people may be weak, tiny specks, but a million people amass to become a mighty current, forming one cooperative effort. This great power is a strength that cannot be contended with in the world, cannot but prevail.
Second, it makes the ruling leaders recognize clearly that a government must put the needs of the people first. The people are not individuals; their needs can be taken as a whole, joining the people’s interests to the nation’s interests. If one dares to ignore the people’s demands, go against the people’s interests and will, this government will certainly face the people’s opposition and rejection.
Third, as long as the demand is reasonable, it will certainly attract sympathy. Although at first the voices may be small in number, they will become more widespread over time, with increasing numbers of people responding, the ranks becoming huge. It’s because the call for justice resonates most in people’s hearts, so crying out for justice will certainly emit a timely, loud sound.
The people are the body of the country, and food is their heaven. The South Korean people are the body of the South Korean government, beef is the South Korean people’s food, i.e. their heaven. This deductive process through the course of events in the South Korean “beef disturbance” alerts us to annotated sayings from the great classics.
(note: I think the “annotated sayings” in this final sentence refers to the “people are the body of the country…” bit preceding it.)
Selected translated comments:
“Doesn’t Korea have beef?”
“It does, but it’s much more expensive than US beef.”
“I don’t get these Gaoli bangzis. What’s all this stuff about sickness when the real issue is regional protectionism? Don’t they know they can trade with China? Our beef isn’t cheap, but relative to the US, it’s decent.”
“…Our country’s beef demand and production are completely different from Korea’s. Our country is basically self-sufficient but Korea is a top beef consumer, importing 2/3 of its needs. …(in China) Beef is expensive and limited to upscale restaurants… but in South Korea, imported beef is cheaper than domestic beef, proliferating consumption among different social classes. Our government insists on an independent economic policy without dependence on others. Food security is of highest importance in international trade of food imports and exports.”
“Now that’s real unity.”
“Korea’s nuts. Their so-called self-respect has erupted.”
“Beef is not only a symbol, but on a deeper level, the bangzis are afraid of Uncle Sam staring down at their purse strings, worried that Lee Myung-bak played with the Americans, and their economy will go belly up. During the last economic crisis, the bangzis donated jewelry to get through the hard time, left with a lingering fear. In fact, our country is the same. It’s only that the bangzis are radical.”
“Expand people power!”
“It’s the equivalent of Chinese people farting.”
“Pure regional protectionism! Narrow nationalism!”