The “Pee Incident” — Absurd Viral Video Plummets South Korea’s Beer Import From China

The customs office verified the video’s impact.

According to the Korea Customs Service, the country’s beer imports from China have dropped more than 40% in a month, all thanks to an absurd viral video.

The plummeting beer imports of Korea from China are expected to hit the brand Tsingtao the worst since it is directly related to the video in question. Tsingtao is also the second-biggest beer producer and the largest beer exporter in China.

On October 29, 2023, a video went viral online where a worker at the Tsingtao brewery was seen urinating into a tank that supposedly contained ingredients for the brand’s popular beer. Tsingtao is China’s second-biggest beer maker and the biggest beer exporter in the country.

Screengrab from the video | WEIBO

The video showed a uniformed worker with a helmet on climbing a high wall and into a big container before appearing to urinate inside it. The video’s location tag read “Tsingtao Beer No.3 Factory.”

The clip caused immediate damage to the brand as its shares fell sharply when the Shanghai Stock Exchange opened the following Monday. Chinese authorities also launched an investigation into the matter and sealed the whole batch of ingredients that appeared in the video.

BK, the organization that imports Tsingtao beer to Korea for distribution, also tried to reassure Korean consumers saying that the beer plant in the video produces beer for local consumption in the Chinese market. But the statement could hardly do any damage control as the “pee incident” has caused rising concerns about the safety of Chinese food and beverages.

South Korea is big on beer consumption, and in October 2023, its overall beer imports saw a 9.4% on-year rise. But the amount of beer imports from China fell 43% on-year during the same period, presumably as an after-effect of the viral video.

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