Calls to boycott U.S. goods spread on Web

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Calls to boycott U.S. goods spread on Web

The Salt Lake City Winter Olympics have receded into the past, but not the anti-U.S. sentiment of South Korea's younger generation.

The controversial call that made Kim Dong-sung give up his gold medal in the men's 1500-meter short track speed skating final has prompted demands for a boycott of American products. Letters calling for such a ban, with an attached list of American companies in Seoul have spread through Korean Web sites, including the Blue House's.

On the widely used Daum community Web site, more than 40 communities that oppose purchasing U.S. products were set up with more than 32,000 registered members. One online community formed to plan street rallies calling for boycotts.

Another portal site, Freechal.com, has more than 30 similar communities with more than 3,000 members. Registration information showed that most of the participants vary from middle school students to those in their late 20s.

At the McDonald's Website in Korea more than 30 letters asking Internet users to participate in the boycott movement are posted daily. One letter read, "Don't complain about the service and go some other place. Be ashamed of eating at McDonald's. Even I don't go near McDonald's after the Winter Olympics. Why don't you all participate, starting now?"

A list posted on the Blue House site named American fast food such as Popeyes, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Mister Pizza, Dunkin' Donuts and Subway; family restaurants such as T.G.I Friday and Sizzler, and coffee shops such as Starbucks, which have gained extraordinary popularity among female consumers. Marlboro, Budweiser, Coca-Cola, Amway and P&G cosmetic products, the HBO cable network and the financial behemoth Citibank were listed.

At a McDonald's in Sinchon, near several universities, hamburger sales are down from an average of 950 a day to 700, according to manager Kim Myung-kwan. "I heard that students held a picket demonstration in front of other branches in Gangnam," he said. "I even heard they post boycott calls in bathrooms. "Ironically those demonstrators wear Nike and Eastpak."

Accordng to the Yonhap News Agency, the sales of T.G.I Friday in Gangnam dropped by 10 percent. In previous years sales have increased 10 to 20 percent at this time of year.

Pictures criticizing the 1,500-meter gold medalist Apolo Anton Ohno have been posted on some sites, along with songs that made fun of him.

by Lee Ho-jeong

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