SEOUL, Nov. 25 (Korea Bizwire) – Against IKEA’s discriminatory pricing policy in Korea, as well as its sale (in some markets) of a large-scale world map with the East Sea indicated as the Sea of Japan, a nationwide boycott that even includes a provincial council is spreading.
At the frontline of the boycott movement is the Gyeonggi Provincial Assembly which has moved to boycott IKEA for its indication of the Sea of Japan on maps sold in its stores. The motion was proposed by Kim Young-hwan on November 20, and 11 other assembly members supported the resolution.
The resolution, to be put to a vote on December 19 by the 128 member assembly, urges the provincial government and public agencies to refrain from purchasing products from IKEA. It is also asking IKEA to recall the map and correct its company brochure which indicates the Sea of Japan rather than the East Sea.
Assemblyman Kim said, “Why does IKEA apologize to Korean consumers while insisting that they will not recall the product? That’s not an apology. We will resist IKEA’s pro-Japanese corporate policy.”
IKEA’s first store in Korea is to be opened on December 18 in Gwangmyeong, a city in the provincial jurisdiction. Also, considering that IKEA’s two other planned stores are both set to be located in the province, if the resolution is adopted, it will hinder IKEA’s Korean operations.
Meanwhile, an online boycott was also launched. In Daum’s online discussion board Agora, an internet user began an online petition by saying, “IKEA is aggravating us by indicating the Sea of Japan just three days after the discriminatory pricing policy controversy. IKEA has been selling the map brazenly despite their awareness of the sensitivity of this issue. The expression ‘brazenly’ just fit for this case.”
In addition, Seo Kyung-duk, a well-known activist professor at Sungshin Women’s University, criticized IKEA in his post on Facebook. He wrote, “If IKEA were a world-class company, it would have understood the market sentiment of the targeted country. It is so irresponsible of the company to respond to the controversy by saying ‘we have no plan to sell the product in Korea.’”
Earlier, on November 13, IKEA Korea released pricing information on its 8,500 items to be sold in the country, intending to attract consumers’ attention by boasting about how low its prices are. However, it was quickly discovered that it plans to sell some products at higher prices in Korea than other countries. However, IKEA responded that it had no intention of lowering prices in Korea.
For the map indicating the Sea of Japan rather than East Sea, IKEA apologized to Korean consumers, but refused to recall the product citing company policy, as it has no known safety issues.
By John Choi (firstname.lastname@example.org)