Photo: Traditional Chuseok table. Credit: Public domain.
Consumer prices in South Korea are showing no sign of abating. According to the Bureau of Statistics 통계청, September’s consumer price index rose by 3.7% year-over-year. As the CPI also rose by 3.4% in August, Koreans are feeling the back-to-back months of high inflation through the Chuseok 추석 holidays, which typically feature an opulent spread of meat, fruit and vegetables.
The summer monsoons resulted in poor fruit harvests, spurring an eye-popping jump in the price of fresh fruits. The price of apples rose by 54.8%; peaches, 40.4%, tomatoes, 30.0%. Staples like ginger (116.3%), carrots (37.2%) and rice (14.5%) also saw sharp year-over-year price increases.
The prices of other essentials are rising as well. In August, the city government of Seoul implemented an across-the-board bus fare hike of KRW 300 (USD 0.23), a 20% to 33.3% increase depending on the bus type. Subway fares will rise by KRW 150 in October, and by another KRW 150 early next year. In Gyeonggi-do Province 경기도, the base fare for taxis rose from KRW 3,800 to KRW 4,800 in July, a 26.3% increase.