Here's a letter to The Korea Times:
You report that the “Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) plans to force discount stores to close two days per month on either Sundays or holidays” in a supposed attempt to boost the performance of smaller stores and traditional markets (“Discount stores face obligatory shutdowns on Sundays, holidays,” 20 March, 2012).
In reality, such measures merely punish consumers who, through their shopping habits, have expressed a preference for largerdiscount stores. Shoppers are attracted to these retail outlets for a variety of reasons – convenience, cleanliness, location, selection, and many others – but never once has a consumer been hogtied and forced to shop in such a store. The success of stores like E-Mart, HomePlus, and Lotte Mart is but a testament to their ability to meet the needs and desires of their customers.Unfortunately, in expressing these desires, consumers have run afoul of local officials who distrust the market order when it does not accord with their own desires. These bureaucrats will thus forcibly block peaceful interactions between consumers and retailers by compelling certain retailers to close their doors. The message from City Hall: any business which successfully pleases consumers can expect swift punishment for its efforts.In an attempt at courtesy, however, a Seoul official is quoted in your article as saying that the city will publicize these closures on buses and subways so that “citizens will not be inconvenienced.”Alas, the Seoul government has long since ceased to care about the convenience of its citizens.Aaron McKenzie
Research Fellow, Center for Free Enterprise
Seoul, South Korea