Friday, December 10, 2010

This is interesting -- according to a study by Korea Consumer Agency, a few consumer goods that are more expensive in Korea compared to other large cities of seven countries including the U.S., Japan, France and Germany include:  beef, pork belly (삼겹살), pizza, beer, garlic, television. Based on this information, Korean government will lower the tariffs on these items.

The Korean can understand the meat part, but garlic and television? That's surprising.

쇠고기 삼겹살 맥주, 선진국보다 비싸다 [Dong-A Ilbo]


  1. Usually when I get garlic in the market it is almost too cheap, when I ask for 1,000 won worth of garlic I get a whole bag full of pre-peeled garlic. But, for some reason, this season it's been rather expencive... like 3,000 for that same bag (and maybe get less in the bag too). But I still think it's cheaper than home where you buy it by the head, not the clove. Not to mention it's a lot more work peeling the skin off...

  2. I have no explanation for garlic, and as you say, the meats are obvious.

    What I think is going in TVs is classic zaibatsu behavior* except in a Korean chaebol context: exports are being subsidized by overcharging the domestic market, and exports in Korea by the likes of Samsung are heavily electronics (and especially TV) driven, leading to odd inversions like TVs in the '80s or '90s being cheaper in America than in Japan where they were manufactured.

    * although I think the economists say this is a general phenomenon in countries developing via exporting, where subsidization is done via low salaries and bank interest rates rather than high prices for consumer goods enforced by trade barriers

  3. Maybe gwern is right, I mean, if you want to buy a car here, a Kia or Hyundai is going to cost you quite a lot more IN Korea than OUT of Korea, quite ironically. I've never been shopping for TVs in Korea, but if the Korean companies have the market more or less dominated by Korean products (like the car market) then they can all charge a little more and not fight for the lowest price like in the States...

  4. TV sets are more expensive in Korea than the U.S. for sure. The same TV I bought in Korea for about 1.2 million won costs about $850 at most U.S. retailers. My monthly cable bill, however is much less than it would be in the U.S. The Digital HD package plus 50 Mbps internet is 38,500 won per month.

  5. Korean,

    Really, you need to return to the homeland if you are surprised that TVs are more expensive here than in the west. To what has been already said I would add punitive tariffs on foreign consumer goods and a hyper-nationalistic populace all too willing to see imports as a threat to the nation.

  6. It's also the non-tariff barriers, which the Korean government is an absolute master of. It's well-known that if a Korean buys a foreign car, they can expect a tax audit to follow in short measure. Remember how the iPhone was blocked from the Korean market for months and months?

    References: 1, 2, 3


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