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Consumption of Soju and Cigarettes Is Rising

Posted February. 02, 2004 22:51,   


Sales of soju, a good seller during times of economic difficulty, increased last year. The consumption of cigarettes also skyrocketed, indicating a dire economic situation last year.

The 2003 Industrial Activities report by the Korea National Statistical Office on Monday showed that shipments of domestic consumer goods decreased 5.6 percent from last year.

But the fact that shipments of soju and cigarettes increased 5.4 and 26.2 percent respectively drew attention. Shipments of soju and cigarettes fell 2.2 and 13.2 percent respectively in 2002.

While shipments of soju increased, whisky and beer shipments were down negative 28 and 2.4 percent respectively. This can be attributed to the fact that ordinary people who are short of money due to economic difficulties turned to cheaper liquor.

Spending on most consumption goods except soju and cigarette plunged.

Shipments of refrigerators and automobiles (except for exports) decreased 26.6 and 17.6 percent respectively. Shipments of cosmetics, men’s and women’s ready-made clothes, and shoes fell negative 5.9, 18.3 and 10.3 percent respectively.

Moreover, the extent of the decrease in shipments of domestic automobiles is in fact getting wider by quarters, which indicates falling consumption.

“The increase in cigarette shipments last year was partly because an anti-smoking campaign spurred by the death of famous comedian Lee Joo-il in 2002 had calmed down, but the rise in soju shipments clearly showed the economic recession,” said Hwang In-seong, a senior researcher at the Samsung Economic Research Institute.

Ki-Jeong Ko koh@donga.com