Soju brouhaha is headed for court

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Soju brouhaha is headed for court

Korea’s two major soju makers are taking their conflict to court.

Lotte Liquor filed a lawsuit at Seoul Central District Court yesterday demanding 10 billion won ($9.2 million) from competitor Hite-Jinro Group for allegedly damaging the image of its flagship brand Cheoumcheorum.

According to Lotte Liquor, after an Internet broadcast falsely claimed that Cheoumcheorum was harmful to the body in March last year, Hite-Jinro’s salesmen through an organized initiative spread the broadcast through blogs and social network services like Twitter. Hite-Jinro was also accused of spending more than 60 million won to distribute leaflets and other promotional tools that contained the false accusation. The prosecutor’s office has indicted four employees of Hite-Jinro, including a 58-year-old high-level executive of the company, without detention for defamation and obstruction of sales by distributing the false information.

The soju manufacturer said it estimates losses, including advertisement costs, incurred because of the false information at more than 100 billion won.

It stressed that the alkali water used in making Cheoumcheorum, which the Internet broadcast claimed was harmful, has been proven to be safe.

By Lee Ho-jeong []

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