In addition to the imposition of freezes on utility prices, and the public humiliation of oil company executives who were accused of consistently raising prices despite the fact their product didn’t seem to get vehicles any further, the government has recently sought to address the issue of the foreign-inspired 'super-supermarkets' - or SSMs - which are generally regarded as better than the smaller traditional Korean supermarkets, which aren't as super.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) claimed that small supermarkets and shops, which are now officially referred to as wholesome sounding 'mom-and-pop' stores rather than their previous government designation of 'tax-avoiding minimum-wage retailers', are part of Korea's unique culture and they need to be be recognized as World Heritage Sites. However, UNESCO has been reluctant to discuss the issue with MOFAT, even though their boss is a Korean and they are disrespecting him as well as all Koreans everywhere by ignoring the issue. Privately however, the government is believed to be fearful that a move away from subsistence retailing in favor of larger stores could put millions of otherwise unemployable elderly people out of business - leaving them poverty stricken, given the government's lack of economic support for the age-group in this deeply Confucian society.
According to a senior government official at the Ministry of Factual Economy, the evil foreign Tesco Homeplus scheme "has employed the method of buying an entire building where its super supermarket store would locate its business." When Tesco's super-supermarket moves in, the large number of customers it attracts tends to increase the desirability of the building to other businesses, and its valuation rises, a move slammed by government officials as "naked capitalism" and "dark market forces".
By contrast, local rival Local Rotte Mart has only opened stores in vacant premises – rather than entire buildings - where other small supermarkets had moved away due to poor business conditions. But foreign Tesco Homeplus is even buying failed restaurants and stationery stores and replacing them with something people want, threatening to roll-back government attempts to control the economy and stifle freedom of choice - a clear threat to national unity. "Subsequently," according to the Ministry of Factual Economy official, "folks thought of it as an invader and this generated a bad image." The military has been placed on a high state of alert.
When the government passed the 'Super Supermarket' law in November last year, it was designed to prevent new any new SSMs from opening, by preventing SSMs which were majority owned by a large brand from operating within 500 meters of any neighborhood with small shops, effectively excluding them from every town and city in Korea. But the disrespectful foreign-owned Tesco Homeplus has exploited an apparent legal loophole in the 'majority ownership' definition under the law, sidestepping the regulations by opening stores where it holds a minority stake instead.
The government is now considering whether to prosecute the company for illegally operating legally, but according to government legal advisers it may be difficult, as it appears the recently agreed Free Trade Agreement with the European Union surprisingly allows British companies to do business in South Korea, even though the Korean people were assured it was a one-way trade agreement that would only benefit Korean companies. Government sources say that accusing Tesco of capitalism is probably their best way of preventing the company's blatant attack on Korea's culture and government.
Homeplus suspected of property speculation
Foreign investors flee local property market
Mom-and-pop stores to face new pressures
'Super Supermarket' law to take effect
National Assembly ratifies Korea-EU FTA
North Korea Welcomes Seoul's Move to Planned Economy
Minister slams refiners on price hikes
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