'No Japan?' Korea swings from extreme rejection to selective embrace
For one local beer aficionado, the recent increase in the variety of alcoholic beverages available at convenience stores has been noticeable and -- to a moderate degree -- welcome.
"Various Japanese beer brands are now part of the 'Buy four cans of imported beer for 10,000 won ($7.50)' deal," 32-year-old Lee Hyun-soo told The Korea Herald.
"So I thought, 'Why not relish their rich flavor?' Especially since I haven't been to Japan in ages,” he said.
Marketed as the first canned beer product to offer a draft beer-like experience, Japanese beer Asahi Super Dry has also been selling out in Korea since its initial launch here in May. Slowly but surely, Japanese beers have started to make inroads into the Korean retail landscape once again after the "No Japan" boycott, which started in July 2019.
In a look at Korea Customs Service’s data from the past four years, as of July of each year, South Korea's imports of Japanese beer have witnessed many fluctuations, with import volumes at 774 and 522 metric tons in 2020 and 2021, respectively, in stark contrast to the 7,985 metric tons imported this year.
However, the rise in beer imports is not the sole indicator of a shift in Korean consumption patterns of Japanese products. The upsurge in engagement with other Japan-related economic activities is currently shifting the anti-Japan narrative.