Sunday, January 2, 2011

Against cheap fried chicken

Five thousand South Korean won, or $4.40, is the price of the most politically charged bucket of fried chicken to hit South Korea.

In four days, the chicken has generated impatient three-hour queues, street protests, a regulatory investigation, national soul-searching on the ethics of competition and condemnation from the office of the President. ....

The poultry-centric controversy began late last week when Lotte Mart, one of South Korea's biggest retailers, began selling its fried chicken at a level that undercut the prevailing market price by more than 60 per cent. ...

That was the cue for a verbal bombardment from Kyochon Chicken, Goob-ne Chicken and hundreds of small restaurants and shops across South Korea that make their living from fried chicken, who fear they would be thrust out of business. Their trade body, the Korea Franchise Association, quickly weighed in with a threat of legal action and allegations of “fried chicken dumping”.

At first, the public shared their rage and seemed ready to be worked up by the media into passionate defence of the little guy against rapacious giants such as Lotte. Then they smelt the chicken, realised they could feed their families for roughly the price of a bus ticket and joined the monstrous queues at branches of Lotte. ...

South Korea's co-prosperity committee, a body established to ensure balanced growth between big and small business and designed with precisely this dilemma in mind, met overnight for the first time.

Lotte announced that it would stop selling the fried chicken this week.
--Leo Lewis, The Australian, on the socially acceptable price of fried chicken

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