Korean Government to

Korean Government to Monitor Inflation
This article appeared to suggest that the Korean government was going to start to look for price discrepancies in the international and domestic markets. What does that mean? It means that if a 42-inch LCD TV costs $600 in the US and it costs 1,100,000 KRW, then there would be an investigation to discover the cause of the price difference.

The List Would Be Very, Very Long
The Seoul Gyopo Guide has addressed this here, and it is particularly annoying that the price of consumer electronics is annoyingly high, especially since Korean companies are frequently the producers of these items. TVs, and more importantly, PCs, are much more expensive in Korea than they are abroad for the same or similar product. We can argue all about whether or not a Samsung PC is better than a Dell/Sony/whatever, but the fact is that they are very similar. There is no reason that the prices should differ by 30%, when compared to the US, or Singapore, for that matter.

Some of the Differences Are Justfied
There are some justifiable reasons for these price differences. For example, the concept of inefficient supply chain may describe some of the discrepancy. What is this? Well, a company sells a product first to a store/company, which then resells that product. When that process has little competition for some reason, then the prices can be higher than the international market price. This occurs very frequently in the UK, where the cost of living is very high. However, many of the products that are the subject of criticism here on the Seoul Gyopo Guide have their final assembly in Korea. While there are large retailers, there are also many small ones (ever been to Techno-mart?) It is highly doubtful that the cause of the high prices is due to the high fixed costs of the seller. It is most likely the result of an agreement amongst Korean producers, i.e. collusion.

Food At Restaurants Too Cheap?
On the other hand, it is a fact that everyday food that you can buy at a restaurant is relatively cheap in Korea. There is almost no chance that an equivalent to the Korean soups (육개장/된장 지개) could be bought in foreign markets at similar prices outside Korea. The reason is that there are regulations to restrain the price that can be charged, because everyday Koreans would not be able to afford to eat there during lunchtime, etc. This does not mean that other, foreign foods, are necessarily too cheap in Korea, however.

No Easy Answers
Some of the price differences will be easily explained. Others will not, and these measure are welcome, if and only if they are pointing out price collusion or illegal price manipulation among competitors. One could easily say that smartphones have been the subject of that in the past, although smartphone prices in Korea are now in line with the global marketplace, thanks to Apple.