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Shopping Housewives Upset

Posted May. 02, 2005 23:40,   


At GS Supermarket in Gangdong-gu on May 1 at 3:00 p.m., Lee Ju-hee (30), a housewife living in the neighborhood, picked up a pack of strawberries, saw the price tag (8,480 won for one kilogram) and put it back down.

She said, “I need strawberries to make baby food for my eight-month daughter, but even though strawberries are in season, they are still expensive,” and decided not to buy them.

She picked out five yellow melons and then put two back. The five melons cost over 10,000 won. In the end, she left after buying three yellow melons for 8,700 won.

Housewives are increasingly getting worried as living necessities have grown a lot more expensive compared to this time last year.

Soaring fruit prices-

On May 1, according to the National Statistical Office, the consumer product index (CPI) for living necessities has risen to 4.9 percent (compared to last year). This is the highest April prices have been in four years. The CPI for living necessities is calculated from a basket of 156 commonly bought products.

The rate of price increases of other products bought in markets is higher than the average rate of price increases of other products.

According to the Agricultural and Fishery Marketing Corporation, the average price of 10 yellow melons is 44.6 percent higher than this time last year. The average price of a watermelon (six kilograms) is 10.4 percent higher than last year, or 15,628 won. The price of 10 apples is 36,100 won, which is 95.1 percent more expensive than the same time last year.

At the Hanaro Club in Gangseo-gu, Kim Seung-ae (50) said, “Fruits we buy often have gotten so expensive that I’m afraid to go shopping. I don’t make fresh fruit juices in the mornings anymore.”

Prices of Meat and Everyday Items Are Also Up-

Bacon, which Koreans often enjoy, is 7,217 won for 500g of medium quality product, 30.7 percent higher than last year. One kilogram of chicken is now 3,973 won, 24.2 percent higher than last year. Imported beef is 4,311 won for 500g, which is a 23.2 percent rise from last year.

Cho Hee-sook (52), who lives in Shinnae-dong Jungnang-gu of Seoul, is now buying bacon twice a week from three times a week. Cho said, “Bacon prices have risen so much, and it feels more expensive because the high priced meat is displayed.”

More to come?-

Yellow melon production has dropped significantly due to the cold weather in February. April’s production is only at the level of last March, thus prices have risen more. Many people have been buying strawberries instead of the expensive yellow melons as a result, which in turn, has hiked up the prices of strawberries, which are selling for 15 percent higher compared to last year.

Kim Jong-gyun, a manager of the product information team of the Agricultural and Fishery Marketing Corporation, said, “Prices of yellow melons and watermelons will eventually drop, but because of the losses from the cold weather early this year, they will probably stay higher than last year’s prices.”

Jin-Suk Huh jameshuh@donga.com kimhs@donga.com