Air-Filled Snacks and Lethal Cars – Korean Consumer Woes

Article from NEWSis:

On September 28th, university students are making a 'snack boat' in Jamsil to protest over-packaging by domestic snack companies.

On September 28th, university students are making a “snack boat” in Jamsil to protest over-packaging by domestic snack companies.

From “Nitrogen Snacks” to “Lethal Weapon Cars,” Consumers Strike Back.

Recently a “nitrogen snack boat” performance by university students, done in protest of domestic snack companies, has become a big issue.

“Nitrogen snacks” is a new word satirizing the fact that a majority of snacks made by domestic snack companies are mostly filled with nitrogen rather than contents themselves.

This situation can be interpreted as consumers turning their backs on over-packaged domestic snacks and their soaring prices. It has been an issue for years.

Especially as there is a stark difference in the contents of domestic snacks and imported ones, there have been complaints that domestic snack companies deceived Korean consumers.

According to the survey of over-packaged domestic snacks by Consumer Research last year, which conducted research on 20 kinds of snacks from 4 domestic snack companies, it has been estimated that 85% (17 out of 20) were less than half-full.

As more and more consumers distrust snack companies, many people re-import domestic snacks using international sites, creating an ironic situation.

Besides, as imported snack markets spring up everywhere, bringing along with them public consumer support, domestic snacks have lost their popularity.

Kim Eun-ji (29), who opened an imported snack store in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, said the major reason for imported snacks’ popularity is the price, typically 2x cheaper than domestic snacks.

This kind of consumer backlash isn’t only toward domestic snack companies.

On September 28th, university students crossed Hanriver with boat made of snack with nitrogen to pretest domestic snack companies.

On September 28th, university students crossed Han River with boat made of snack bags to protest domestic snack companies.

Recently two members of the girl group Ladies’ Code passed away because a tire fell off their car.

The stability the domestic-made car industry has been questioned after it was found out the car they were riding in was made in Korea.

For years, domestic cars have been labeled “lethal weapon cars” and have caused serious distrust among consumers and prompted boycotts.

More than anything else, the rising number of cases of car problems and car accidents has resulted in consumer safety fears over Korean-made cars.

According to a study by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport made by Kim Tae-won, a representative and member of the parliamentary Land, Infrastructure and Transport Committee, it was found that 176 of the total 417 reported sudden unintended acceleration occurrences were cars from Hyundai Motors.

Hyundai Motors was followed by 69 cases from Kia Motors, and 61 cases from Renault Samsung Motors.

On the other hand, the number of incidents occurring in imported cars was 15 from BMW, 12 from Toyota, and 9 from Mercedes-Benz.

On October 3th, two members of a girl group 'LADIES'CODE' died after the car they took hit a protective wall on the shoulder of a road.

On October 3rd, two members of the girl group Ladies’ Code died after their car hit a protective wall on the shoulder of a road.

Korean-made electronics and home electronic appliances were also not an exception.

The price gap of smartphone prices between domestic and international sales was around 300,000 won at the highest, which shows that the tyranny of big companies taking advantage of Koreans has reached a significant level.

To stand against seemingly unending tyrannical behavior of big companies, consumers have raised their voices.

Consumers have begun to learn smarter shopping, such as buying products directly from an international site or comparing prices and amounts of products.

Choi (29),who often buys things from international sites, says, “If I care about both price and quality, I tend to buy most products from international sites rather than in Korea.”

Experts point out that the major cause of this situation is a societal structure based on export industries.

Yoon-mi Jo, the director of the headquarters Green Consumer Network in Korea, “As domestic companies targeted international consumers due to an industrial structure focusing on exports, domestic consumers who had trusted domestic companies felt betrayed and turned their eyes to the international market.”

“As the number of wiser consumers is growing, they will turn away from domestic products with exaggerated prices or minuscule amounts, and purchases will be made on the international market despite the risk,” she added.

Comments from Daum:


Every domestic snack company should apologize for what they have done. Are you selling nitrogen or snacks? Snack companies cheating consumers for easy money will rejected by consumers.


Consumers are taking a stand against nitrogen snacks, weapon cars, and distribution law revisions.


We don’t call all the domestic cars lethal weapon cars, only Hyundai and Kia. Don’t water it down and write a correct article.


If companies don’t know the time when companies sold products by appealing to patriotism is gone, they should be kicked out. If a product is expensive, don’t buy it. And then the price will go down.


Sudden unintended acceleration! The Korean court of law said there was zero sudden unintended acceleration. Korea is so funny. The Judicial branch, Executive branch, and Legislative branch give companies and their heavy shareholders top priority. This is Korea. Democracy was already trampled on a long time ago by capitalism and companies.


What is patriotism for? I bought domestic products because they were cheap but not anymore.


You reap what you sow. It’s time to change the current situation.


“Prosumer” is the answer. When all the people are “prosumers,” the tyranny of big companies will become powerless. You should be a “prosumer” not only to gain economic freedom, but also to take steps in the direction of consumer rights.


If we find a domestic snack that sells in foreign countries, it contains a large amount of contents, and a price is also cheap. Cars for export is far safer and better quality. Domestic snacks are expensive with a small amount of contents, and domestic cars are such a poor quality. That’s why imported snacks are popular. They have less amount of nitrogen than domestic ones so they can make us drown, ke ke.


Guys who did a nitrogen snack performance should have called CNN and AFP for a bigger effect, ke ke.


To use imported products, this is real patriotism.


Dr. You (a snack brand) lowered the price when sales went down. Now some snacks by Dr. You cost 3,000 won when bought in threes. Companies won’t go back to normal unless sales are down. If consumers act like pushovers nothing will change. It’s old-fashioned for companies to appeal to customers’ patriotism by only using domestic products. Companies trying to rip off customers with worse than Chinese products should fail.


People can live once big companies, especially Samsung, fail. Otherwise Korea will be the slave of Samsung forever.


Big companies are doing shit believing people are going to buy their products. Let’s boycott domestic products.


That’s why I use iPhones.


What was Saenuri saying, some shit about the trickle down effect to Korean people? Is there anything but pain, depression, distrust, and anger?


The best way is to import foreign-made products with good prices and high quality.


Domestic consumers are considered dumb. Price is always going up without any agreement…


Companies will be enlightened once buyers shouting out patriotism are. Patriotism? What is the use of it to companies regarding consumers as dumb? They might kill us. Don’t buy nitrogen snacks, cars with full of flaws or expensive smartphones. Let’s rather buy cheap Chinese stuff. Then domestic companies will realise something.


Are we supposed to make snacks at home, can we actually live well without snacks, buying imported cars, and buying electronics from international sites? Both the government and companies think everyone is a dumb ass!

Article from NEWSis:

Will “Nitrogen Snacks” Remain Infamous? Government Amends Packaging Rules.


The government has begun to amend regulations regarding packaging of confectionery products recently tangled up in packaging issues.

On October 9th, according to Ministry of Environment, a service providing a package standard for different kinds of products will be set up within the next month to prevent over-packaging, reduce packaging waste, and promote recycling.

Regulation of snack packaging has always existed. However, it didn’t reflect reality and many companies also took advantage of regulations, resulting in the infamous “nitrogen snacks.” The Ministry of Environment is planning to amend the related regulations so that it is applicable to snack packaging.

Ministry of Environment is actively taking part in an over packaging issue of snacks as it has been a problem for a long time.

When Ministry of Environment surveyed a package situation among 62 kinds of snacks (41 domestic ones and 21 imported ones) from June to August in 2011, it has been found out that domestic products used averagely 2.5 times bigger package (at the most 6.5 times bigger)by an excessive use of shock-absorbing materials or air injection.

From 2011 to 2013, for 3 years, the number of cases of over packaging violation by domestic snack companies was 577 cases, and the imposed fine was about 1.4 billion.

The number of cases was 159 cases(the fine was about 375 million) in 2011, 227 cases (the fine was about 518 million), and 191 cases(the fine was about 564 million) in 2013. Most of them violated the number of package or the packing rate.

30~35 % of domestic waste in a year consists of packaging waste. If the amount of package is reduced, it can help not only preserve environment but also lower the cost of living.


Regulations, however, have many weak points.

Because the regulation is not related to contents, but the percentage of the first layer of packaging to the whole package. Besides, there are too many exceptions which are criticized as snack company “indulgences.”

One of the major problems is that shock-absorbing materials, trays, and other items used to keep the contents safe are included in the first layer of packaging, so relatively less empty space remains.


Jin-ju Baek, department head at Consumer Research, “Existing regulations to ban excessive packaging and save materials is not working well. More enforcement of the law is needed, since domestic companies are not working as hard as foreign companies to upgrade voluntarily.

A representative from the Ministry of Environment explained that, “In order to reduce over-packaging, we will hear the opinions of experts, businesses, and citizens. We will carry out improvements in regulations related to layers and amount of packaging.

Comments from Naver:


Regulate false advertisements like “Made-in-Korea Rice” with a product that contains 1% Korean rice.


Have you ever touched a bag of potato chips? It is just like a balloon!


Snack companies argue that injecting nitrogen is inevitable for keeping contents safe. But imported snacks are fine, and they’re not full of preservatives.


We should prepare a bill regulating the contents of snacks to be over 90% like other countries do.


Go away domestic companies thinking Korean consumers are dumb.


It reminds me of old snacks of Korea. At that time they were full, and sold well without nitrogen. One day, the snack companies reduced the amount in the packages, and raised the price. I really hope all the domestic snack business fail.


This is the end. The government is trying to do something, and so the snack amount will increase. But so will the prices, saying it is just due to “price rationalization.” Soon the price of snacks will start at least from 2,000 won up to 5,000 won.


The number of violation cases was 577 but the fine was less than 1.5 billion… This is why they are doing shit. If I were them I would keep selling nitrogen even though I pay a fine. This situation is all because of law makers taking a bribe and overlooking the violations. The assholes running companies and those asshole lawmakers are one in the same.


Let’s actively import foreign snacks. What good is patriotism if it just makes fun of citizens?


A snack boat, ke ke. It made me laugh all day, ke ke.


A good example of a peaceful protest, ke ke.


An imported snack shop just opened near to our store. Bye-bye “nitrogen snacks.”


Foreign snacks are the truth. Domestic snacks don’t taste good but only their stock values are going up. And chocolate by Lotte or Orion- why do domestic ones have of vegetable fat and oil while the export versions use cocoa butter?


Once you eat imported snacks, you never eat domestic ones, ke ke.


Isn’t a domestic snack so multi-use that it could be use as a life saver in an emergency? See, this is a brilliant idea that foreigners haven’t thought of.

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