[Letters] Simple solutions for revitalizing traditional markets

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[Letters] Simple solutions for revitalizing traditional markets

Some market watchers say Apple filed suits against its archrival Samsung Electronics because it has reached a technological limit in developing its iPhone series. They argue that a company which is bent on dragging a rival down cannot smile at the last minute. Rather, it should focus on ratcheting up their level of technology.

Then, how about applying this perspective to the ongoing conflict between super supermarkets (SSMs) and traditional markets? Due to the hardship the old-fashioned markets are suffering after a rapid increase of SSMs across the country, local governments issued an ordinance restricting business hours for SSMs. As the effect was minimal, however, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced it would ban SSMs from selling a few items, including cigarettes, bean sprouts, soju and other daily necessities. That measure, however, led to a great deal of inconvenience for customers as they had to go to distant traditional markets just to cook bean sprout soup.

There is a limit - and inconvenience - to a strategy that relies on finding fault with opponents as seen by the egregious brawl between Samsung and Apple. It would be much better for the two giants to invest their time, money and energy in research and development for their technologies rather than fighting over patent rights. That will surely make consumers happier. In the same way, why not set about revitalizing traditional markets rather than putting the brakes on the operation of SSMs? Unless the intrinsic problems of old-style markets are not solved, like their lack of parking lots and shopping carts, housewives will find it a pain to go to them.

A more fundamental solution would be establishing an efficient shopping system and preparing sufficient parking space. A productive solution requires more time to demonstrate its effect, just like Apple needs more time to develop a new technology than to begin patent lawsuits. Likewise, local governments should refrain from resorting to unproductive, populist solutions.

by Yoo Kyung-won Student at Seoul National University
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