The once-boycotted Japanese products in South Korea are now experiencing a turnaround as the movement to boycott them, known as ‘No Japan,’ transitions into ‘Yes Japan.’
The introduction of the ‘Asahi Super Dry Draft Beer Can,’ which allows the draft beer to be enjoyed from a can, has caused a shortage in supply. Japanese apparel and automobiles are also witnessing a rapid recovery.
Lotte Asahi Liquor, the importer of Asahi beer, has released limited quantities of the ‘Asahi Super Dry Draft Beer Can’ in major convenience stores and hypermarkets across Korea.
This marks the first beer introduction in Korea in four years for Lotte Asahi Liquor, which had refrained from launching new products due to the anti-Japan sentiment. The beer’s debut in Korea has resulted in a sold-out crisis, quickly becoming the top-selling imported beer in major convenience stores. Although supply shortages temporarily halted availability, some convenience stores have begun restocking the product.
The Asahi Super Dry draft beer cans, which were first introduced in Japan in 2021 after extensive development, successfully replicate the taste of draft beer. Upon opening the can, it produces rich bubbles, earning it the nickname of ‘canned beer with a big lid.’ Lotte Asahi Liquor plans to launch a Korean-exclusive design this summer.
Lotte Asahi Liquor, despite the setback caused by the Japan boycott in 2019, is making a remarkable recovery. The company experienced a drastic 86.2% decline in sales over three years, but in 2021, sales increased by 87.2% compared to the previous year, with operating profit turning positive.
The recovery trend extends beyond beer, with Japanese imports overall showing signs of improvement. Japanese beer imports in the first quarter of this year increased by 148% compared to the same period last year, reaching the highest level since the second quarter of 2019. Additionally, imports of Japanese whiskey, soju, and wine surged by 80.4%, 20%, and 25.2%, respectively.
Uniqlo, Japan’s renowned apparel brand, is also experiencing a rebound. Despite being shunned during the boycott, Uniqlo has managed to regain its position as the number one SPA brand in South Korea. The company’s sales reached 803.6 billion won in 2021, marking a 31% increase from the previous year.
Japanese cars are also gaining momentum in the South Korean market. Sales of Japanese cars from January to April this year rose by 52% compared to the same period last year, with Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus achieving a remarkable 114% growth.
Among the top 10 imported car brands, Lexus was the only one with a triple-digit growth rate. The hybrid model ES300h was the third best-selling imported car.
The domestic share of Japanese cars has been steadily declining in recent years, but these positive developments indicate a potential reversal of the trend.