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South Korea to end mandatory Sunday closures for large retailers

Updated: Feb 4

The South Korean government announced on Monday that it will scrap the policy that requires large retailers to close their stores on Sundays twice a month, starting from July this year. The move is part of a series of measures aimed at reforming regulations related to people's livelihoods, including allowing more handset subsidies and book discounts.

The mandatory Sunday shutdown policy was introduced in 2012 under the Distribution Industry Development Act, with the intention of protecting traditional markets and small businesses from losing sales to big-box retailers. However, the policy has been criticized for failing to achieve its purpose and instead disrupting people's shopping convenience on holidays, especially amid the rise of online shopping.

Under the revised regulations, retailers will be able to designate their closure days on weekdays and operate online deliveries regardless of their business hours. The government expects that this will increase consumer choice and satisfaction, as well as create more jobs in the distribution sector.

Another measure that the government plans to implement is lifting the ceiling on handset subsidies, which currently limits the amount of discounts that mobile carriers can offer to customers. The Mobile Device Distribution Improvement Act, enacted in 2014, was intended to bring transparency and fairness to the market, but it has been blamed for restricting competition and depriving customers of opportunities to purchase phones at lower prices.

The government hopes that by removing the restrictions on subsidies, mobile carriers and distributors will be able to compete freely and offer more affordable prices to customers. The government will also monitor the market to prevent any illegal or excessive subsidies that could harm the industry.

The government also announced that it will allow small-sized bookstores to offer more discounts on books, which are currently capped at 15 percent. The government said that this will help revitalize the book industry and support the cultural diversity of the society.

All three measures require law revisions and need approval from the National Assembly. The government said that it will work closely with the parliament to pass the bills as soon as possible.

The government said that these measures are part of its efforts to improve the economy and people's livelihoods, which are the top priorities for President Yoon Suk Yeol's third year in office. The president also pledged to reform the pension, education and labor sectors, as well as to strengthen the security and deterrence against North Korea's nuclear threats.

The government said that 2024 will be a pivotal year for the nation's new leap forward, as the global economy is expected to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and the domestic economy is expected to grow by 3.5 percent. The government said that it will continue to pursue policies that benefit the people and enhance the national competitiveness.


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