In defiance of ludicrous rumors

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In defiance of ludicrous rumors

It is hard to tell what is true and false in our society these days. Over the weekend, an article appeared on the Internet claiming that a former tax agency chief and a Korean-American lawyer, both suspected to hold key information about a bribery and corruption scandal involving the president and other heavyweight politicians, arrived in Korea at the U.S. Forces’ Osan Air Base.

The story of a former commissioner of the National Tax Service, Han Sang-ryule, and Erica Kim, a sister of the BBK chief executive imprisoned for stock manipulation, supposedly arriving under the protection of U.S. forces raised a commotion in cyberspace.

“What timing! Americans suddenly decide to hand over the suspects who have been hiding in the U.S.!” one blogger wrote. “It is no wonder the president is so desperate to ratify the free trade agreement!” another wrote.

But these claims are false and the truth can be confirmed by simply checking media reports. In fact, Han returned to Seoul via Incheon International Airport on Feb. 24. And prosecutors confirmed that Kim also returned to Seoul via Incheon. We cannot understand why rumors spread about the involvement of U.S. Forces Korea when the facts are clearly laid out.

We already experienced runaway rumors during the mad cow scare over imported American beef in 2008. Now, the free trade pact with the U.S. is breeding similar hearsay. For instance, even though our public health system is not included in the free trade agreement, students are posting rumors that people could die on the operating table because some will not be insured once Americans interfere with our public insurance system.

Complaints about the FTA from the radical Democratic Labor Party are also propagating throughout the Internet. Trade experts insist the claims are as ludicrous as saying that we can catch mad cow disease from makeup that has material from American cows.

Politicians should help the public tell right from wrong. Yet opposition party leaders are capitalizing on anti-American sentiment for self-serving reasons. They claim that we will lose everything to the U.S. if we sign the FTA and are branding their campaign as a fight against neo-imperialism. They call for candlelight protesters to follow them to the parliamentary and presidential elections.

But they have underestimated our country. The majority of our society still moves on common sense - not ridiculous rumors.
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