Drunk on lies

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Drunk on lies

Each and every time a controversy arises in Korea, our society becomes intoxicated by a potent cocktail of conspiracy theories based on lies.

Antigovernment activists typically kick things off and are soon joined by opposition parties, which then lure naive citizens and students to follow suit.

The first example in recent times was the mad cow scare involving American beef imports in the summer of 2008. Today, we’re hearing a variety of conspiracy theories related to North Korea’s torpedo attack on a South Korean naval corvette that killed 46 sailors. Some of these theories hypothesize that the South Korean government was somehow involved. The main opposition party legitimized these theories by refusing to adopt a National Assembly condemnation against the North Korean attack.

Although different in scale and character, the opposition party and some civilian groups claim that the four-rivers restoration project is all part of a big government scheme to revive President Lee Myung-bak’s ambitious Grand Canal project.

The rabble-rousers also have set their sights on the skyrocketing price of fresh vegetables. The main opposition Democratic Party has claimed that the increase results from a reduction of available farming land and is tied to the construction projects on the country’s main rivers.

But the DP’s argument is neither logical nor correct. The fields near the rivers account for a mere 1.4 percent of the country’s total vegetable-growing land, and they cannot possibly affect overall Napa cabbage prices. Their argument is the equivalent of saying that the closure of a few hotels will lead to a nationwide hike in room rates.

Every sensible person understands that the recent increase in prices for Napa cabbage and other fresh vegetables stems from unseasonably cold weather in the spring, frequent and harsh rainfall during the summer, and unfair distribution practices. Natural disasters are beyond the power of humans. But central and local governments can do more to reinstate order and stability on the supply side. The opposition party should have pressed for improvements on the retail side instead of fanning rumors.

The government now fears that the price bubble will burst. Farmers in the country’s southern region paved the way for a bumper crop after farmers in the north experienced poor yields, which officials fear could lead to a flood of supply and a larger-than-expected decrease in prices in the long-run. What will the opposition say if prices tumble? Perhaps they will come up with yet another conspiracy theory. It’s time our politics return to reason and logic.

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