Unprecedented case of Korean consumers panicking over unfounded rumors

When I heard that soju was bad for your health, I was shocked and needed to read more.

In all honesty, though, as much as I like soju (and I’ve drunk my share), it is a cheaply made industrial product. There are (quite reasonably priced) artisan sojus made from actual rice on the market. Maybe drink a little less chemically flavored industrial byproduct in green bottles, and spend a little more time exploring Korea’s rich culture of brewing and distilling.

Original from the Han’guk Kyongjae. There’s an infographic I might translate later if I get around to it, too.

After Ch’aesondang, soju ‘Ch’om Ch’orom’ has difficulties . . . businesses bruised by SNS rumors

Malicious slander of alkali water . . . magnified on the internet
Business agitated – fatal injury to brand

“Business owners are agitated.” “An increasing number of consumers are telling rumors and refusing ‘Ch’oum Ch’orom’.”

On the 14th, at the head office of Lotte-Chilsung beverages in Chamsil, an emergency conference was held chaired by the head of the business main office of the alcoholic beverage division (executive director) Yi Sang-chol. As vicious rumors about their flagship soju product ‘Ch’om Ch’orom’ rapidly spread over the internet and social networking services since the 7th, it was the place to discuss its influence and countermeasures. The atmosphere of the discussion attended by department head Yi, each region’s head of sales, and the board members in charge of the alcoholic beverage division was weighty and gloomy throughout. At the field operations report, “Compared to last week, business sales have fallen 10%.” they let out a groan. A Lotte representative said, “The impact is greater than anticipated so we are gathering suggestions of effective actions we can take against the rumors.”

The source of the matter was a program aired on cable TV’s Consumer TV with the provocative title, “Shocking! ‘h’om Ch’orom’s illegal manufacturing poison? Water?” The point was that it is fatal to humans to drink a lot of the alkali regenerated water that is used in the soju Ch’om Ch’orom. Lotte didn’t take it seriously in the early stages as the report began to spread on the internet as a video. As criticism of alkali regenerated water was raised in 2006, and the issue was already finished with the verification of the safety and legality from the Korean Food and Drug Agency and National Tax Office [?] so they judged that it would not have a large impact.

In the end Lotte changed its course of action. Because the video and malicious rumors were spread and reproduced on blogs and twitter. Even baseless rumors that, “Ch’om Ch’orom supports people and groups that oppose national security,” have gone around. In newspaper advertisements and press releases on the 19th Lotte explained about the rumor and clarified that they will firmly handle legally internet defamation.

Businesses are suffering from the unconfirmed information and malicious rumors on SNS and twitter. Last month the shabu-shabu shop Ch’aesondang suffered due to a lie that came out of an ’employee assaulted a pregnant mother’, and earlier this year the Ddokbogi franchise Joe’s Food was mistaken for ‘an affiliate of CJ Group’ in ‘an instance of a large business invading the allies for commercial supremacy’.

As some malicious consumers (black consumers) abuse SNS, the number of suffering businesses is increasing. The more that businesses use SNS to face consumers directly or sell products, the more they can take hits from wrong information that circulates or false news. Professor Han Sang-lin of the Hanyang University School of Business advised, “Because SNS information is shared rapidly in a short time, trustworthiness is important.” and “Businesses shouldn’t just be excessive with civil actions and it is urgent that they work with the intention of making immediate corrections.”

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