(Small businesses) "Less consumption than during the IMF"
|Hankyoreh tells in its editorial that the talk of economic crisis by "the conservative newspapers" is too excessive, and a "conservative paper", no doubt the one that Hankyoreh refers to, that is Chosun Ilbo, has been ringing bells for economic downturn for some time (editorial; column "You mean this is not an economic crisis?"; special section). (I see that Chosun has been using the Han'guk kyôngje wigiin'ga [Is the Korean economy in crisis] since last year...)|
Picture from Chosun; images of empty marketplace corridors like this are often used to illustrate how bad the economy is, or how the economy has been polarized (lack of customers in marketplaces vs. busy department stores)
In another piece Chosun borrows hard facts from the monthly Statistical Office report on consumer services (3월 서비스업 동향), which show that many major branches are in downturn. Retail sales (소매업 매출) in general have diminished 5.6% from Jan 2003, and are on the slide for 14th month in the row. (Retail and wholesale combined [도소매] are down 0.3% from March last year.) Especially hotels (sukpak) and restaurants, and real estate have gone down, the latter by 9%.
Comparing any economic phenomena with "The IMF" is a common way of giving an impression that the times are hard (and now I'm not claiming that it'd be only an impression and not a fact), but saying that "eating and consuming less than during IMF" (IMF때보다도 안먹고 안쓴다) when the only thing comparable with the time of the crisis is the continuing slide is going not just a little too far.
The original report as downloadable files in Korean.
Let's take a bit closer look at the figures in the outlook of the report in the above link (to look at the original 20-page report would take too much time). It turns out that the overall "service activity index" (서비스업활동지수) is up 1.9% from last year.
2004년 3월 서비스업 생산활동은 폭설, 윤달 등의 영향으로 도·소매업, 숙박·음식점업, 오락관련서비스업 등에서 감소하였으나, 통신업, 운수업, 사업서비스업 등에서 증가하여 전년동월대비 1.9% 증가
Update. Back to Chosun Ilbo: to show that the economical crisis is for real, the top article on the homepage is headlined "Traditional markets are all dying".
광주 양동시장 광주상회 고순자(64·홍어집)씨는 “식당 사람 다 죽어부렀어”라고 말했다. 가게를 접은 상인들이 주로 전업하던 일이 식당이었지만 식당도 안 된다는 얘기다. “홍어 팔아서 5남매 키웠는디. 자식들이 IMF 때 회사를 나와부러 우리 집에 다 들어왔당께. 큰일이여!”It's impossible to say where the line between the common rhetorical style of the small businesspeople and the actual dire conditions goes. The report itself is of course not made to consider structural changes which surely are making the conditions for "traditional" marketplaces (chaerae sijang) worse.
Categories at del.icio.us/hunjang: Koreaneconomy ∙ marketplaces ∙ businesskeepers