Consumers should join the boycott of Japanese goods

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Consumers should join the boycott of Japanese goods

There have been recent international media reports about Korean grocers and other shops boycotting Japanese products in response to Japanese statements about Dokdo. A hat’s off to them. Very sorry that those shops may take a financial hit, as they lose a few regular Mild Seven and Asahi customers from their neighborhood, but principles are sometimes costly.

Retailers are leading the charge, and consumers should follow.

Koreans can be passionate about an issue and can control what they have power over. Good for them if they demonstrate pride in country. How pleasant to see civil disobedience organized, focused, and (usually) in control. Tear gas is used for less frequently these days compared to the past. In relation to Dokdo, civil action can be taken by not buying Japanese products.

Some university students smoke, for example, and as a professor I check for who smokes Japanese cigarettes, frowning at those who smoke Mild Seven. Koreans amongst themselves should also discuss their purchasing of Japanese products.

Korean women should persuade each other to eschew Shiseido, Kanebo, and other Japanese cosmetics products, when Korea’s own The Face Shop is an international success. In fact, Korean cosmetics in general have a good reputation in Asia, and to shun Japanese makeup products would further hurt Japan exports.

We should freely allow and encourage the Japanese to spend piles of money in Myungdong because it’s super fashionable, and buy boxes and boxes of Korean ginseng because it’s ‘good for health.’ Let hallyu flourish in Japan as TV rights to dramas are bought and K-pop concerts are sold out all over Japan.

How wonderful to see a Korean presence so powerful!

Need Koreans really feel a thirst for saki these days? Indeed, soju and baekseju tasted fuller after Lee Myung-bak’s visit to Dokdo in August 2012. Another hat off to him.

Mild Seven and Asahi beer are small consumer products, but the real money can be found in electronic goods by companies like Sony and Toshiba, and especially automobiles. If Koreans really want to send a message to Japan, then instead of buying a Honda or Toyota, buy a Hyundai Elantra, notably ranked as car of the year at the world’s premier automobile exhibition, the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

However, in no way should Korea tolerate the shenanigans of vandalizing Japanese cars and shops. Shame on the mob mentality that promotes that in China. It seems so odd to me how riled up Koreans were decades past over, admittedly more significant social and political issues. Presently they seem so calm and sophisticated. They have social composure, so we can hope and assume that violent riots will rarely take place or that Japanese cars will not be randomly scratched.

Sophisticated consumer choices is what I call for. At large brand name super markets, do they list if their fish is from Japan (as they do for beef)? Restaurants are required to post where their beef and pork originate, and fish restaurants should have the same obligation. Let’s not forget that vegetable and animal products from a large area of Japan due to their nuclear disaster is still completely untrustworthy to many people. As consumers concerned about Dokdo, we should all check - and not buy Japanese imports.

With disincentives like that, and national and reasoned pride in Dok Do, to borrow a line from the Mel Brooks’s classic Blazing Saddles, Japanese products? ‘We don’t need no stinking’ Japanese products. Especially the expensive ones.

*Assistant professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in the English Linguistics Department

By Gavin Farrell
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