Water Is Blue Gold In the past, water was regarded as the root of life. Like alchemists who believed that all creation can be made because there was water, water was an important value in our society. Also, recently people have spotlighted water once again and call the 21st century as a water period. Also, they call water ‘Blue Gold’ and reappraise water as a high value product. Therefore, the Korean government is studying making water brands like “Drinking spring water” to promote the water industry.¹ By making products like Evian, they want to compete with other high quality goods and make a clean image of Korea.
In the past, water was regarded as the root of life. Like alchemists who believed that all creation can be made because there was water, water was an important value in our society. Also, recently people have spotlighted water once again and call the 21st century as a water period. Also, they call water ‘Blue Gold’ and reappraise water as a high value product. Therefore, the Korean government is studying making water brands like “Drinking spring water” to promote the water industry.¹ By making products like Evian, they want to compete with other high quality goods and make a clean image of Korea.
Yes, Healthy Water
In 1988, Korea first sold water. It was the time of the Seoul Olympic Games. At that time, Korea was a little bit dirty, so the government thought foreign players would want to avoid our water. Therefore, they made mineral water for them and a 1995 Law for the Management of Drinking Water was made, and people could sell mineral water freely. From 1995, our water industry has been growing steadily more than 10% a year. In the year 2004, the scale of water industry was 250 billion won, in 2005 it was 320 billion, and now the 2011 outlook is more that 400 billion won.² In the past, people consumed water because it was clean; however, now people buy water for a variety of reasons. Especially, in 2011, the trend of society was ‘well-being,’ and it also influenced consumption of water. As a result, people started to buy water for their health not just its’ purity.
As people’s demands moved from pure water to healthy water, functional water with various ingredients gained popularity. For example, oxygen water which contains oxygen content more than 10 times compared to other mineral water to help people to overcome fatigue, and alkaline water to neutralize our body. From 1,500 won to 19,000 won, the price of functional water is in a broad range of prices. However, people spend money generously to buy this water. Housewife Kim Hyungja (51)said, “Nowadays, there are various water purifiers, but it is also nervous to drink. Therefore, even though the price is expensive, I purchase water to drink for our family’s health.” Accordingly, Shinsegae department opened a water-bar, that people can buy various water products in Gangnam, Yeongdeungpo and Busan. Also, they arrange a ‘water adviser’ like a sommelier at each bar to provide information about the water to people. Oh Jihyun (24) who usually visits the water-bar said, “I usually drink Samdasu, but sometimes I buy some alkaline water for my health.” The ‘water fever’ has not come just because of improved quality. New functional water with various ingredients made people to buy water products more than before, but visuals also increase popularity. Glaceau Vitamin Water can be a typical case. Glaceau Vitamin Water came out to market colorful and it attracted people, therefore, in only a month, they sold more than 6 million bottles. Choi Jiyeon (21), Division of Economics of SMU who enjoys drinking Vitamin Water said, “I know that Vitamin Water does not affect my health much, but I choose it to drink because of its color. Color is one reason that I prefer Vitamin Water than general water.” Fancy color and various functions make people to buy water products.
Now, people do not drink water just as water. Kim Nando, professor of College of Human Ecology in Seoul National University said, “The characteristic of modern society is premium. Everything commands a premium, for example, coffee, wine, cars and water.”³ People consume premium products to increase their value like this, and this is one of the main reasons that people buy premium water to drink. However, if people just buy water to achieve their desire, the culture of purchasing water will just stay as a luxury consumption culture. People need to think that the main reason to buy water was not showing off, but to drink more clean water. Why do you buy water to drink?
¹ Park Daehan, 「Make a "drinking spring water" as a national brand」, yonhap news, 2011.09.14
² Kim Kiho, 「'Blue gold' water foundation market」,SBS CNBC, 2011.07.07
³ Jeon Saehwa, 「Why people drink premium water?」, Hankook ilbo, 2010.0429