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Frozen Consumption Instead of Year-end Boom

Posted December. 16, 2002 22:17,   


“Apart from boom due to election, vital moments in year end disappeared, too.”

Seoul Yongsan electronic market and Dongdaemun clothes market had a few clients on weekend, as people would say, “there are crews more than clients.” Shopkeepers complained, saying, “it is said IMF crisis has been overcome, however, we don`t know why the business is going on like this.”

Year is coming to an end and people`s sensible condition is getting frozen. Macro economics which government announced seems to be stable, however, sensible condition of people regarding consumption and employment went to `severe cold that is below zero`, experts indicate.

▽ Spot of common economy = J restaurant, Mugyo-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, in the afternoon of Sunday 15th. 120 wet tissues among 160 are left as clients reduced suddenly on Saturday.

Jang Jin-gyun (49), chief of Seoul sanctuary, wet tissue supplier to restaurants, said, “Amount of used wet tissues reduced as much as one third in comparison to last year” and “ten of forty restaurants where we visited today didn`t order additionally at all.”

Lunch time scene of salary men is similar to the time of IMF crisis, too. 10~20 people are in line in front of restaurants in Jung-gu, Seoul, where 4,500 won of bugeo soup and deonjang soup is sold, till one o`clock, despite the lunch time being over. On the contrary, in case of bok soup restaurant which costs 15,000won per person, people can get seat easily without booking. Chief of C bok soup restaurant analyzed, saying, “Clients who eat bok soup are quite rich” and “but, still above 30% of clients are reduced and it means clients in bar are highly reduced.”

So called `Double` fare of taxi, targeting night drunken clients is getting disappeared, too. Many taxi drivers receive fare by meter only without `extra fee` in going to Bundang in Seongnam or Ilsan in Goyang, Gyeonggi province from Seoul downtown.

Taxi driver Mr. Jeon Taek-soo (64) said, “Clients who wants to take taxi at Gangnam, which is full of restaurants and pubs were occupied this summer” and “now, taxis are more than passengers.” I taxi company in Seoul stated that 12 cars among 95 taxes are `resting` due to difficulty in management and drivers who don`t give money due to increase in companies.

Mobile shops which follow boom are in a heavy blow. Mr. Yun Hee-won (33) who runs mobile shop at Seoul Yongsan electronics market, said, “we sold 15~20 mobiles a day last year but we are selling only three nowadays.”

Doosan tower, Dongdaemun, Seoul in the evening of weekend. Shops were deserted despite Saturday. Ms. Park Sun-nam (26. female), shop keeper of women`s suit, complained, “I used to sell 20 suits if it is Friday evening last year, but I sold only two suits today. ”

▽ Cause and prospect = experts point out that the Korean economy solved out `foreign currency` crisis, but it didn`t achieve fundamental improvement. In particular, foreign investment like finance and major company came into Korea and it is causing uneasiness regarding employment.

Managing director of Prudential life insurance, Kang shin-woo, said, “in case financial agencies make private loans complicatedly, we can`t avoid the possibility that numerous private collapses may happen early next year ” and “due to it, index of `sensible condition` is worsening seriously than IMF crisis. ”

Director of macro economy at Hyundai economy research, Park Dong-cheol, said, “Enterprises are reducing investment and employment is getting reduced because of opaque business situation, therefore, vicious circle such as unemployment is increasing and consumption shrinking is being repeated.

Hyo-Lim Son aryssong@donga.com