Gov’t draws fire for inconsistent approach to overseas direct purchases

Gov’t draws fire for inconsistent approach to overseas direct purchases
Gov’t draws fire for inconsistent approach to overseas direct purchases

SEOUL, May 20 (Yonhap) — The government has come under criticism for retracting a plan to force the Korea Certification (KC) safety mark on certain goods directly purchased overseas, following strong protests from consumers.

The government said Sunday its proposed ban on direct overseas purchases of 80 types of goods that may affect public safety and health but lack the KC mark will not be implemented immediately.

Lee Jeong-won (C), the second vice minister of the Office for Government Policy Coordination under the prime minister, speaks on the government’s new regulations on harmful materials related to overseas direct purchases in Seoul on May 19, 2024. (Yonhap)

Last Thursday, the Office for Government Policy Coordination under the prime minister announced a plan to prohibit cross-border purchases of 80 types of products lacking the KC mark to better protect local consumers from hazardous materials.

In the face of backlash from consumers, however, the government revoked the policy plan over the weekend.

“It’s not true that all 80 items will be banned immediately from overseas direct purchases,” the office said in a press release. “The ban will be imposed only on items found to be hazardous, beginning in June, after a comprehensive safety inspection by the relevant agencies, including the industry and environment ministries.”

The office then promised to prepare detailed guidelines to ensure there will be no inconvenience to the public in the process of enforcing the ban.

The policy confusion comes amid criticism that the proposed ban, which apparently reflects recent reports that some goods sold by Chinese online shopping platforms, such as AliExpress and Temu, contain carcinogenic substances, is excessive administrative control that will restrict consumer choice.

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