While the rest of the world is panic-buying tissue paper, South Koreans just want potatoes

By BBC On Tue, 17 Mar, 2020 11:07 | < 1 min read

While shoppers around the world strip supermarket shelves, South Koreans have been poised online every morning waiting for potato farmers in the province of Gangwon to post their latest crop for sale.

It has become so popular that the trending hashtag is PTS, a reference to the world famous South Korean boy band BTS.

The craze began after farmers in Gangwon province, on the country’s rural east coast were struggling to sell their crops as restaurants closed their doors to encourage “social distancing” during the outbreak.

To try to help, the regional government office started a social media campaign to sell the potatoes to consumers online. It worked.

On the first day the website crashed with surging demand as buyers tried to get hold of one of the 8,000 bags of potatoes on offer.

On social media, buyers posted that they didn’t necessarily need so many potatoes, they just wanted to help the farmers.

One potato buyer, Miss Kim, told the BBC that she was hovering over her laptop ready to press the refresh button as soon as the market opened in order to get her supplies.

“People all want to help but didn’t know how,” she told us. “I can see this getting even bigger. Also, when the team gave the campaign name ‘PTS’, the BTSArmy (name for fans of the boy band) went nuts. There’s a competition going on amongst fans to try to post photos to prove they bought a potato.”

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