SEOUL, Oct. 10 (Korea Bizwire) — The South Korean boycott of Japanese products, popularized by its slogan ‘I Will Not Buy, I Will Not Go, and I Will Not Wear”, marked 100 days on Tuesday.
Some South Koreans are now purchasing Japanese products, but the voluntary participation of the public still leaves little room for Japanese companies.
In fact, Japanese beer has all but disappeared from store shelves. According to the Korea Customs Service, imports of Japanese beer only amounted to US$6,000 in September.
Shortly after the boycott began, Japan’s ranking among countries exporting products to South Korea fell from first to third in July and 13th in August, before falling further to 28th in September.
With the sharp drop in sales of Japanese beer, overall beer imports also fell 8 percent on-year in the first nine months of this year. The position was taken up by Korean beer, which benefited from reflective interest.
Travel to Japan also suffered a big blow. Passengers on flights bound for Japan dropped 30 percent in September from a year earlier during the Chuseok holiday season, the peak travel season.
The October reservation rate also dropped and despite a reduction in flights, seats remained empty. The boarding rate stood at 60 percent.
The travel boycott also sent shockwaves through the Japanese economy.
According to the Korea Economic Research Institute, the effect on production inducement of Japan showed a sharp 27.6 percent drop in South Korean tourists in the July-August period.
The damage amounted to 350 billion won (US$292 million). This figure is nine times larger than the 39.9 billion won decrease in South Korea’s production inducement during the same period.
Meanwhile, a prime example of the “I Will Not Wear” movement is the boycott against Uniqlo.
Uniqlo has closed four Uniqlo stores since the start of the boycott in July. In fact, the number of people visiting stores has plummeted since July.
Sales also plunged. Uniqlo sales via eight credit card companies plunged 70.1 percent to 1.77 billion won in the fourth week of July from 5.94 billion won in the last week of June.
Amid the decrease in sales amid the boycott, there is a sign of consumption picking up at Uniqlo’s online mall, with its popular winter products, heat retaining underwear called Heattech and light-weight padded jackets selling out.
However, Uniqlo is likely to experience mixed fortunes in Korea this winter, as social media is still awash with messages urging users to not to buy Japanese products and support the boycott.
D. M. Park (firstname.lastname@example.org)