Japanese beer brands are making a comeback in South Korea after a period of boycott. The boycott began in 2019 when Japan imposed trade sanctions on South Korea. It was a reaction to a Korean court ordering Japanese firms to compensate Korean victims of forced labor during Japan’s occupation of Korea. The boycott led to a decline in sales of Japanese consumer goods, including clothing, beer, and cars.
However, in recent years, there has been a shift in sentiment. The boycott has lost traction, and more Koreans are visiting Japan as tourists. The weak yen and favorable exchange rates have made Japan an attractive destination for Korean tourists. With the increase in tourism, Japanese products have also seen a growth in sales.
Younger generations are driving these consumption patterns, and their perceptions of Japan are influenced by the Korean government’s current stance towards Japan. The Korean government has chosen to put past disputes behind for closer ties with Tokyo. This shift in diplomacy has led to the establishment of a state-run foundation to provide compensation to victims of forced labor and the withdrawal of a WTO complaint against export restrictions.
However, the controversy surrounding Japan, such as the release of treated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, continues. It is important to respect individual choice in times like this and not influence others’ decision-making processes. Despite concerns, some Koreans still have conflicting feelings about Japan and its products.
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