Four years after Seoul protests, South Korean editors kiss and make up with U.S. beef

Posted on January 8, 2013

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2008 US Beef protests in South KoreaLet’s take a trip down memory lane.

In 2003, South Korea was U.S. beef’s number 1 customer, at an estimated annual market value of $815 million, when a mad cow disease scare (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) led to a nationwide ban of American beef.

After multiple failed attempts to reverse the import ban, U.S. exporters finally succeeded in 2008. This resulted in the infamous 2008 U.S. beef protest, bringing 100,000 angry protestors to the streets of Seoul.

Finally, the tide seems to be turning. In 2010, South Korea surpassed Japan for biggest American beef customer in Asia.

And in August and September of last year, three of the country’s top culinary magazines sent editors to the U.S. for a visit to a Wyoming ranch. They received a briefing of the beef industry, heard a scientific lecture at Colorado State University, and spoke to beef distributors and retailers.

Of course, they enjoyed a few steak dinners in New York City, too.

After returning to Korea, each magazine published lengthy, photo-laden spreads describing the trip in shining terms.

Will the positive message get through to picky consumers in South Korea? Only time will tell.

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Posted in: Beef Industry