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South Korean Liquor Company Under Fire For Diesel-Scented Soju

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A restaurant owner complained about the liquor company’s inadequate response after detecting a diesel-like smell in the soju they supplied.

Recently, a post titled “Diesel Found in Soju on Sale” appeared on the online community Bobaedream.

A restaurant owner who has been running a barbecue restaurant in Seoul for a decade heard from a customer at the beginning of last month that there was a strange smell in the soju.

After smelling it himself, the restaurant owner noticed the diesel-like odor from the soju and immediately replaced it with another bottle. However, the same smell was present in the new bottle of the same brand.

After finishing work that day, the restaurant’s owner’s family also noticed the same smell while drinking soju at the restaurant. They then checked all the supplied liquor and found that about 20 bottles of soju smelled of diesel. The restaurant owner’s mother, who drank a bottle of the strong-smelling soju, reportedly felt unwell for several days and even visited the hospital.

The restaurant owner then continued to contact the headquarters of the liquor company. A company representative visited the restaurant to verify the smell and acknowledged that it smelled like diesel. According to the restaurant owner, initially, the company representative speculated that the issue might be due to the storage method at the liquor factory. They suggested that tiny holes in the soju glass bottles might have allowed the diesel smell to permeate if stored alongside diesel at the factory. They collected several bottles of the foul-smelling soju, promising to report it directly to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) and find out the cause, even if there is damage. The restaurant owner waited for the company to act further for two weeks but received no contact. When he called again, the company claimed they were waiting for the victimized customer to report to the MFDS directly.

The restaurant expressed his frustration, saying, “It feels like they’re just quietly waiting for time to pass without saying anything to the two victims who drank the diesel-smelling soju and suffered damage to their business. Our family also suffered psychological harm from drinking the soju ourselves, and we even lost customers. I’m wondering if it’s okay to continue selling soju from the brand with diesel.”

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