Conservative Legislators Drink out of a Fish Tank

Don't try this at home.

Conservative Legislators Drink out of a Fish Tank

Photo: Kim Yeong-seon drinks out of a fish tank.  Credit: KBS News.

The ruling People Power Party 국민의힘 is doing its level best to defend Japan’s decision to release the radioactive wastewater from the failed Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. (See previous coverage, “Fukushima Adds a Millstone on Yoon.”) Skeptical of Japan’s claims that the wastewater is safe, the South Korean public has been stockpiling sea salt and reducing seafood consumption. In response, PPP legislators have been conducting a nationwide tour of fish markets and eating fish as a vote of confidence in Japan’s claims of safety.

Some of them may have gone a little overboard. In a visit to Seoul’s famed Noryangjin Fish Market 노량진 수산시장 on June 30, five-term veteran legislator Kim Yeong-seon 김영선 repeatedly dipped her hands into a fish tank and drank the water that the live fish swam in. Ignoring the astonished onlookers, Kim urged fellow PPP Assembly Member Ryu Seong-geol 류성걸 to drink the water too. (Ryu complied, remarking: “It’s salty.”)

Kim then argued on camera that the fish tank water was safe for consumption although the water contained radioactive elements from the uncontrolled release of Fukushima radioactive wastewater in 2011. Surely, Kim claimed, this meant that the sea water would continue to be safe after the controlled release of the radioactive wastewater that underwent treatment.

It is entirely unadvisable to drink even non-irradiated fish tank water, which contains fish excrement and other unfiltered pollutants. Democratic Party spokesman Kim Han-gyu 김한규 민주당 대변인 noted: “Most of the wastewater hasn’t even been released yet. What would be the point of drinking out of a tank at a fish market? Even the fish in the tank were probably confused.” Even conservative cable TV news channels found Kim’s action strange, with JTBC News calling the demonstration “unpersuasive,” and Channel A News saying it was “bizarre.”

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