Sunday, November 22, 2015

Leave the Beer Alone!

In December 2014, the Seoul High Court ruled that forcing large retail stores to close two Sundays every month was illegal because (1) the law limited consumers' right to choose where to shop and that (2) there was no evidence to suggest that the law actually helped small retailers or traditional markets.

For a while, I was hopeful that there might have been some sense in Korean courts. However, the Supreme Court made sure that common sense and critical thinking stayed dead and buried when they overruled the Seoul High Court and sided with local municipalities.

According to the Korea Times, one of the justices said,

"A regulation for the public good is not only important but also necessary. However, it can hardly be seen as depriving consumers of their right to choose as large retailers do not need protection."

Don't ask me how that makes any sense.

Of course, this is not the only instance of the government meddling in the economy that has screwed over consumers.

The Mobile Device Distribution Improvement Act has shackled all telecom companies to offer the same discounts to their customers, thus forcing people to pay more for their smartphones.

The Book Discount Law prevents retail bookstores from selling books at a discount any higher than 15%.

And a year ago, the Korean government was mulling the International Direct Purchase Law; a proposed law, which would have regulated how much, how, and what individual consumers would have been able to purchase from international websites such as Amazon or eBay.

But now someone has really messed up. Now there are rumors that the government plans to regulate discounts of imported beer.

Let's be frank. Shutting down large retail stores two Sundays out of a month is no big deal. People can plan ahead or just shop online. Making smartphones more expensive pissed off some people, but thankfully smartphones are becoming cheaper anyway. As for books, who reads books? And regulating online foreign purchases sound like it would be easy to skirt around.

But mess with beer? Do they not know what country they're governing? There has been debate about the accuracy of the claim that Koreans drink more than anyone else in the world. but it's without doubt that Koreans are heavy drinkers.

So dear Korean government, you done goofed. If you think the protests have been violent so far, wait until every single pissed off salaryman joins the fray. There will be hell to pay!

So if you know what's good for you, for God's sake, leave the beer alone!

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