Korean butchers will soon be able to sell both domestic and foreign beef in line with World Trade Organisation (WTO) recommendations, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Because of Korean laws that prohibit the sale of domestic and foreign beef side by side, butchers have had to choose beef of only one origin for over a decade. The majority decided to sell Korean meat and now there are around 45,000 such butchers in the country. Only about 5,000 foreign meat butchers exist.

The government argued in 1990 that the livestock processing regulation was necessary to prevent butchers passing cheap foreign beef off as its more expensive foreign equivalent. Both the US and Australia filed complaints with the WTO against the separation of butcher shops, pointing out that nether country imposed similar regulations on imported Korean meat. 

The WTO ruled that while separation itself is not discriminatory, the law had meant that sales of imported beef had plummeted, and hence Korea had violated the de fact national treatment clause under WTO agreement.

Earlier today, the Ministry revealed that a new regulation would allow butchers to sell the meats together, as long as signboard clearly show the origin of the beef.