Korea ranked first on the list of countries by U.S. beef consumption per capita last year, amid easing fears over mad cow disease that had lasted more than a decade.
According to a report by the U.S. Meat Export Federation on Monday, Korea imported US$1.22 billion worth of American beef in 2017, making it the second largest importer after Japan with $1.89 billion. It accounts for 17 percent of overall U.S. beef exports.
But in terms of per capita consumption, Korea consumed most with 3.5 kg of American beef, followed by Japan with 2.4 kg and Mexico with 1.9 kg.
American beef dominated the import market in Korea once it opened to foreign produce in 2001, but imports plunged amid the mad cow scare in 2003. But with the bilateral free trade agreement taking effect in 2012 and easing fears, it gradually restored its dominance.
Korea's U.S. beef imports ranked between third and fifth until 2015 but moved up to second in 2016, edging out Mexico.
A shopper picks up a pack of U.S. beef at a wholesale store in Seoul.