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Where’s the buzz: Mad Cow epidemic movement in South Korea

June 22nd, 2008 by

 Where’s the buzz: Mad Cow epidemic movement in South Korea

The Mad Cow Story – The Korean version

Korea imposed a blanket ban on U.S. beef in 2003 after the discovery of mad cow disease but lifted the 5 years ban last april just before President Bush was to meet South Korea’s new president, Lee Myung-bak.

Angry, holding fears that the meat might not be safe from mad cow disease, Koreans organized the country’s biggest anti-government protests initially online and later stumbled over candlelit vigils on street which is being dubbed as “street democracy,” “digital populism” or “Web 2.0 protest.”

Tracing the Mad Cow Buzz:

The buzz around the Mad Cow beef is almost impossible to trace and follow in major English sites and blogs. Youtube, Facebook the regular buzz hubs as well as global search engines like Google fails dismally to assist us this time. As a matter of fact, the Mad Cow buzz originated in websites which western countries are not much familiar with viz michincow, Antimb group & daum.

Korea – Web 2.0 and anti American nation? see the facts:

1. In a nation where English is not widely spoken, the mad cow buzz served as a catalyst to fuel the Anti –American sentiments ingrained within Koreans.

2. Korea is world’s most wired country. 55% of South Korean have visited a social network in the last 30 days.

3. Internet-savvy and armed with gadget-filled mobile phones Korean teen agers raised an online petition on Agora calling for Lees impeachment.
It gathered a whopping 1 million plus signatures. (note: only few petitions so far succeeded in bringing over million signatures). Adding to the nightmare of Korean law & administration the protest soon appeared on the streets of Seoul.

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Following the buzz from South Korea to English speaking countries::

Following Korean blogs (buzzword), it’s easy to identify that the buzz gathered momentum since mid april & peaked in early may.

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Korean bloggers vehemently promoted Ribbons against Mad cow, posted photos and videos of the protest on street to raise the awareness to a zenith.

In the absence of suitable Korean language centric buzz tracking tool, the mad cow protest remained behind the curtain untill this June. When it broke in the international news, that took the world into a surprise.

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Is it all about the Mad Cow?:

Analysing into the root of “mad cow buzz”, the Korean protests exists in local social networks Cyworld [see English translation] & in Daum petition [see translations in English],we arrived at the conclusion that the Korean are not only rebelling against their own government but also enjoying the power of protests and social power.

Aftermath:
1. President -Lee says sorry over beef row
2.Korea, US agree on beef deal but protests continue.American beef imports to South Korea will not resume anytime soon.
3.Internet Democracy prevails in Korea
4.Stars & Losers of Candlelit Vigils

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