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S. Korea's whisky imports hit 21-year low in 2020

Scotch Blue whisky (Yonhap)
Scotch Blue whisky (Yonhap)
South Korea's imports of whisky plunged to a 21-year low in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and a change in alcohol consumption here, government data showed Tuesday.

The value of whisky imports amounted to $132.5 million last year, down 13.9 percent from the previous year, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service.

It was the lowest level since the $115.9 million recorded in 1999 in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.

An industry official said whisky consumption fell further last year as local bars were hit hard by social distancing measures aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

South Korea's whisky imports had been on the skids since peaking at $270.3 million in 2007.

The downturn also follows the implementation of the country's draconian anti-graft law in 2016 and a 52-hour workweek in 2018.

The tumble in South Korea's whisky imports thus made a big dent in performances of foreign whisky makers' local subsidiaries.

Sales of Diageo Korea Co., the South Korean unit of British alcoholic beverage company Diageo Plc, plummeted 32.6 percent on-year to some 200 billion won ($179 million) last year, with its operating income nose-diving about 60 percent to 20 billion won.

Pernod Ricard Korea also saw its turnover fall 11.7 percent on-year to 91.5 billion won, but it swung to an operating profit of 16.1 billion won. (Yonhap)
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