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Cablegate: Press Bulletin - November 28, 2008

O 280705Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY SEOUL
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2456
USDOC WASHDC 7836
DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
CIA WASHINGTON DC//DDI/OEA//
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI//FPA//
SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
DIA WASHINGTON DC//DB-Z//

UNCLAS SEOUL 002286


DEPT FOR EAP/K, EAP/PD, INR/EAP/K AND INR/IL/P
TREASURY FOR OASIA/WINGLE
USDOC FOR 4430/IEP/OPB/EAP/WGOLICKE
STATE PASS USDA ELECTRONICALLY FOR FAS/ITP
STATE PASS DOL/ILAB SUDHA HALEY
STATE PASS USTR FOR IVES/WEISEL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO PGOV PREL MARR ECON KS US
SUBJECT: PRESS BULLETIN - November 28, 2008

Features

1. U.S. Beef Sales; "It Is Cheap..." "But..."
(Hankook Ilbo, November 28, 2008, Page 13)


Top Headlines

Chosun Ilbo
Prosecutors to Seek Arrest Warrant for Former President Roh
Moo-hyun's Elder Brother on Suspicion of Taking 1 Billion Won in
Return for Influencing Sale of Sejong Securities to Nonghyup

JoongAng Ilbo
Former President Roh's High School Friend, Jeong Hwa-sam, and his
Brother Operated Illegal Gambling Business in Busan with Money Given
by Sejong Securities; Park Yeon-cha, Chairman of Taekwang Industrial
and Supporter of
Former President Roh, Hid 60 Billion Won Abroad

Dong-a Ilbo
Former President Roh's Elder Brother and Jeong Brothers Allegedly
Ran Gambling Business in Busan Together;
Park Yeon-cha, Former President Roh's Supporter,
Amassed Tens of Billions of Won in Slush Funds

Hankook Ilbo
Senior Sejong Securities Official: "Former President Roh's Elder
Brother Personally Demanded Money for
Influencing Sale of Sejong Securities to Nonghyup"

Hankyoreh Shinmun
Former President Kim Dae-jung: "Lee Myung-bak Administration is
Intentionally Derailing Inter-Korean Relations"

Segye Ilbo
Some 120 People Killed in Mumbai Terror

Seoul Shinmun
Former President Roh's Long-time Supporter
Park Yeon-cha Evaded 50 Billion Won in Taxes


Domestic Developments

1. According to the Unification Ministry, North Korea yesterday
detailed its cross-border passage restriction, slated to start Dec.
1, by informing the ROK that it will only allow ROK people to enter
its territory once a week via its eastern border and three times a
day via the western border. The North also slashed the number of
people and cars allowed to cross the border by half and cut the
hours during which border traffic is permitted. (All)
2. Major local discount stores yesterday resumed sales of U.S. beef
for the first time in about a year. Most of the stores were crowded
with customers, and sales of U.S. beef in some discounters surpassed
those of Hanwoo (beef from Korean cattle) and Australian beef.
(JoongAng, Dong-a, Hankook, OhmyNews, VoiceofPeople)


International News

1. The U.S. will soon deploy three squadrons of F-22 stealth
fighters to the Pacific region to deal rapidly with North Korea's
nuclear threats. (JoongAng)


Media Analysis

Mumbai Terror Attacks
The ROK media gave front-and inside-page coverage to yesterday's
series of terror attacks in India's financial hub Mumbai, which left
around 120 people dead and more than 300 injured. The ROK media
reported that Muslim militants attacked at least 10 targets,
including two five star hotels and a crowded train station, with
assault rifles, hand grenades and explosives and that the attackers
held some 100-200 foreign and local hostages at one of the hotels
they invaded while engaging in a gunfight with local police.
Foreigners who escaped from the scene of the terror attack were
quoted as saying that the gunmen had singled out British and
American nationals during the hostage standoff. The ROK media went

on to say that all 26 Koreans, who had been caught in the middle of
the deadly terrorist attacks when they were taken hostage at a
Mumbai hotel, escaped unharmed four hours later but that the ROK
Foreign Ministry is still looking for one Korean who did not make
his flight back home to Seoul. Conservative Chosun Ilbo headlined
its stories: "Indian Version of 9/11 Terror Attacks; Mumbai Attacks
Seem Intended to Test Obama." Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo wrote
in the headline: "Mumbai Terror Aimed at Westerners... Obama Put to
the Test." Moderate Hankook Ilbo's headline read: "International
Community Again Plunged into 'Terror Nightmare;' BBC Reports Bin
Laden Plans Terror Attacks on New York Subway Before Obama Takes
Office." Left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun headlined its story:
"Obama's Anti-Terror Strategy Put to the Test"

U.S. Beef
Most ROK media noted yesterday's resumption of sales of U.S. beef by
major ROK discount stores for the first time in about a year, and
reported that most of the stores were crowded with customers and
that sales of U.S. beef in some discounters surpassed those of
Hanwoo (beef from Korean cattle) and Australian beef.


Features

U.S. Beef Sales; "It Is Cheap..." "But..."
(Hankook Ilbo, November 28, 2008, Page 13)

By Reporters Lee Sung-hee and Kang Ji-won

U.S. beef got mixed response from consumers.

In terms of sales volume, U.S. beef overtook hanwoo and Australian
beef.

Civic groups, including the People's Conference against Mad Cow
Disease, launched a protest rally.

On November 27, when U.S. beef sales resumed, the meat sections of
large discount stores E-Mart, Homeplus and Lotte Mart were crowded
all day long with people, including reporters and beef consumers.
There were also some people who said, "I came here just out of
curiosity." However, consumers' response was largely mixed. While
people aged over 50 said, "We are satisfied that we can eat meat at
a lower price," housewives in their 30s and 40s noted, "Although we
are looking around out of curiosity, we are still cautious."

Around noon the same day, at the U.S. frozen beef section of an
E-Mart store in Yongsan, you could see a bulletin which explained
each part of the beef and notified consumers that "we, E-Mart, sell
only safe beef from cattle younger than 30 months, which is produced
at slaughtering and processing plants certified by the ROKG and the
U.S. Department of Agriculture." By part, per 100 grams, chuck
roll sells for 1,350 won, loin for 2,780 won, boneless short rib for
1,880 won, and fore shank for 2,280 won.

A person surnamed Kang (54, Galwol-dong, Yongsan-gu) who goes to
market every other day said, "My two sons, a high school student and
a college student, like beef, but so far we could not afford to eat
beef. I am happy to buy beef at half the price (of home-grown beef
hanwoo)," adding, "Since large stores are for ordinary folks, they
should sell cheap products." A person surnamed Hong (40,
Galwol-dong) who said she dropped by the store to buy U.S. beef
noted, "I bought a set of fore shank (790g) for 18,000 won. I am
satisfied with its price and quality."

On the other hand, an 8 months pregnant woman surnamed Koh (38,
Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu) said, "How come U.S. beef entered the ROK
market so easily? Since the government and citizens were at
loggerheads over the controversial issue for about six months, I am
confused how U.S. beef is available on the market so soon." A
mother of two elementary school students (42, Yichon-dong,
Yongsan-gu) remarked, "Since it is for my children, I will choose to
buy hanwoo. I would like to give my children safe foods."

Around the same time, a Lotte Mart store near the Seoul station also
began selling U.S. beef. Since civic groups changed their protest
venue from here to an E-Mart store in Yongsan, this store was
relatively quiet. A person surnamed Lee (62, Sillim-dong,
Gwanak-gu) said, "Hanwoo is very expensive. Young people know
nothing. Some restaurants and meat shops cheat consumers by
mislabeling U.S. beef as hanwoo," adding, "Given our difficult
livelihood, I do not understand why they do not buy high-quality
U.S. beef at a lower price."

The sections of pork and Australian beef whose prices are similar to
U.S. beef are less crowded. A seller at the meat section of a Lotte
Mart store noted, "Some people asked about the safety of U.S. beef,
but most decided whether or not to buy it after looking at the
quality of beef in person. Many people compared it with Australian
beef, and among U.S. beef products, fore shank and ribs are
popular."

As of 6 p.m. on this day, E-Mart announced that out of the first
shipment of 40 tons of U.S. beef, 13 tons were sold, and 16 tons of
Australian beef and 4.5 tons of hanwoo were sold. Australian ribs
for steamed dishes were especially so popular that they drove up the
overall sales of Australian beef. When it comes to the total amount
of beef sales, both U.S. and Australian beef amounted to 108 million
won, overtaking hanwoo (105 million won). At HomePlus, 11.5 tons of
U.S. beef were sold by 6 p.m., higher than Australian beef (9.3
tons) and hanwoo (3.7 tons). As of the same time, at Lotte Mart, 6
tons of U.S. beef and 2.3 tons of Australian beef and 4 tons of
hanwoo were sold. An official of Lotte Mart said, "More than 9 tons
of U.S. beef, 180% of the daily target, are expected to be sold by
closing time."

Meanwhile, the People's Conference against Mad Cow Disease and the
Hanwoo Association held a press conference in front of an E-Mart
store in Yongsan at 1 p.m. and called for the suspension of U.S.
beef sales at big discount stores. Although Democratic Labor Party
lawmaker Choi Hyung-kwon and Chairman of the Korean Federation of
Trade Unions Huh Young-koo attended the rally, a total number of
participants numbered only about 20 due to bad weather, and around 3
p.m., the initial plan to continue the rally at a Lotte Mart store
near the Seoul station was canceled.

Rep. Choi and Chairman Huh met with the head of the E-Mart store in
Yongsan around 2:30 p.m. and demanded an answer to a call for a ban
on U.S. beef sales by December 1. However, E-Mart said, "It is not
a matter that we can decide unilaterally, and the sales suspension
is not possible." An official of the People's Conference against
Mad Cow Disease said, "If (large discount stores) continue to sell
U.S. beef, we will also continue to protest against it."


Stephens

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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