The Korea Herald


Seoul City to continue to restrict large stores

By Kim Young-won

Published : Sept. 3, 2012 - 19:49

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Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said Monday that the city government would continue to restrict the operation of so-called super-supermarkets and large retail stores run by conglomerates.

He said on a radio program that the city would restart the compulsory holidays for SSMs and large retailers again from November, after revisions to related bills by each district office are finished.

“The court rulings did not completely nullify the restriction on the operation of SSMs and large stores on the second and fourth Sundays,” Mayor Park said on the radio program.

The Seoul Administrative Court ruled in June that the city’s ordinance was a measure that jumped the gun as it did not seek consensus with the retail industry and provide a chance for them to have a say. Many large stores resumed their operations after the ruling.

“The bill is undergoing revision and will be announced in September. The compulsory shutdown will restart as early as November,” Park said.

He also emphasized the necessity of banning large stores from selling 50 items, such as cigarettes, soju and trash bags.

These are thought to be high-selling items since they are cheap or everyday necessities.

“The collapse of small business owners and merchants at traditional markets could cause social conflicts and enormous social cost. Co-prosperity is the trend of this era,” the mayor said.

Mayor Park recently met lawmakers in Seoul City’s districts and asked for support to revise the related SSM laws such as the Distribution Industry Development Act and the “Co-Prosperity Act” between large conglomerates and small and medium-sized enterprises, according to a city official.

When the proposed bill is passed, the right to review and to give permission for business operation, which is currently held by the Small and Medium Business Administration, will be given to the city mayor and local governors, according to the city official.

Large markets and SSMs will have to submit their plans a month before the start of their businesses to the city government and district offices in which they operate.

If their businesses are deemed to likely affect nearby small businesses, they will have to adjust their location and opening date, too.

If there is an objection to the adjustment, the SMBA will review the business plan.

The proposed bill will expand a registration system, currently run in traditional markets in the city to ban big businesses from buying the ownerships of others, to other markets nationwide.

Violators will be punished with one-year imprisonment or a fine of less than 50 million won ($44,000).

By Kim Young-won (