January 09, 2016 08:10
In tough times people buy cheap, and sales of Chinese electronics have been surging in Korea over the last one to two years. What has helped immensely is that their quality has also improved, which makes the advantage of buying Korean seem increasingly slim.
Even in the somewhat arcane field of drones, 90 percent sold here are made in China, by firms like DJI. Chinese drones with high-definition cameras cost only around W60,000 to W100,000, around half the price of comparable Korean products (US$1=W1,202).
The situation is the same with small home appliances. Koreans bought around 10,000 Xioami's Mi air purifiers online last year. They can filter out even fine dust particles and be remotely operated by smartphones, yet cost just around W100,000, a mere third of the price tag of similar Korean products.
Plus 70 to 80 percent of heaters and humidifiers sold under Korean brand names are manufactured in China anyway, an industry insider admits.
Chinese TVs, refrigerators and washing machines, once the mainstay of Korean home appliance makers, are rapidly increasing their share of the market here. The main customers are hospitals and hotels.
A 32 to 40-inch Korean LCD TV costs W300,000-500,000. But similar ones from Haier and TCL of China cost just around W220,000-350,000. And small refrigerators made in China cost more than 20 percent less than Korean ones.
Haier's small washing machines are widely favored by university students and others who live alone and now account for close to 40 percent of the domestic market.
"In the past, many customers shunned Chinese products, but more and more people are buying them because the quality is great compared to the price and after-sales service networks have improved," one staffer at Lotte Himart said.
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