Although the South Korean government and the ruling party are strengthening the control of distribution with an aim of coexistence, domestic consumers are flocking to overseas Internet shopping websites. The nation’s direct overseas purchases are hitting new records in the era of borderless Internet.
According to the data from the National Statistical Office (NSO), the direct overseas purchases of domestic consumers reached a record high at 22 trillion won (US$20.43 billion). The figure showed a rapid growth every year from 16.4 trillion won (US$15.23 billion) in 2014 to over 20 trillion won (US$18.57 billion) in 2017. It continues to rise this year as well. The direct overseas purchases in the first quarter this year came to 640 billion won (US$594.24 million), up more than 100 billion won (US$92.85 million) from 530 billion won (US$492.11 million) in the first quarter of last year.
In particular, domestic consumers are flocking to China. China accounted for 11 percent of the total direct overseas purchases in 2016 and 17 percent in 2017 in terms of the number of purchases after the United States. While the domestic retail industry is shrinking due to regulations of distribution, South Korean consumers are turning their eyes to China.
An official from the distribution industry said, “It is the undeniable reality that it is hard to promote not only the offline but also online retail industry in South Korea stuck in protecting the local businesses. In the meanwhile, more and more consumers are going abroad.”