[LETTERS to the editor]Dependence on oil imperils usCurrently, oil prices have increased rapidly worldwide due to an increase in demand and a lack of supply. High oil costs have negatively influenced Korean economic development, led to rising numbers of job seekers and a decline in services that people receive.
The major outcome from spiraling oil prices is that Korean economic growth will slow down because the Korean economy is heavily dependent on imported oil. This high dependency exacts a heavy toll on Korea’s financial resources. This dependency is hurting Koreans. The country’s per capita consumption of oil is among the top 10 in the world. And since Korea does not have any natural energy resources ? it does not produce any fuel it must import oil and gas for its energy needs. Therefore, Korea has to purchase oil from energy-rich countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and other producers even though the oil prices are high.
According to a study done by the Korean government, the Korean economy will plummet when the price of oil rises by 10 percent a year. Unfortunately, oil prices are expected to continue to rise higher than most are able to afford.
High oil prices will make the products that Korea makes more expensive, therefore reducing Korean companies’ competitiveness and could ultimately force companies to lay off workers.
In a recent example of the economic problems resulting from high oil prices, recently there were a lot of people who refused to work especially in the transportation business because the high fuel prices have been heavily eroding the incomes that they earn. The truckers who transport cargo from one place to another claim that they haven’t made any profits for almost a month due to the enormous rises in prices at the pump. The high oil costs drove up their expenses so much that they end up earning very little money. Therefore, people who are in the logistics industry like transport drivers, especially independent truckers, were appealing to the government to give them a subsidy that would allow them to earn a living.
Last but not least, services suffer amid increasing prices. As companies try to cut costs to earn a profit, they are reducing what they can from their services so their customers receive poorer service.
For instance, businesses that use large amounts of oil have been forced to cut employees to offset their losses, and with a reduced workforce, they end up providing less or lower quality service to their customers. For example, airlines have been steadily cutting in-flight food, magazines and drinks as well as reducing flying routes as a means to save on costs. Airline companies have been trying to minimize the weight and number of bags that passengers can carry to save on fuel costs.
In conclusion, I believe development of alternative energy sources is necessary to solve the energy problems in Korea in order to ensure economic development, increase employment and provide services for its people. Unless alternatives can be found for oil, Korea will continuously be in a perilous situation, and its future will be vulnerable.
Choi Ah-yeon, Ilsan
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