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The Korean retailing sector since the 1970s: Government, consumers and the rise and fall of the department store.

Yi, Jonghyun (2009) The Korean retailing sector since the 1970s: Government, consumers and the rise and fall of the department store. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

This thesis is a study of the Korean retailing sector since the 1970s. It focuses on analysis of the three elements in retailing development - government, retailer and consumer - which engaged in a process of mutual interaction. It is used to address two main questions, namely why was the leading role of the department store in the Korean consumer market delayed, and why was its golden age both quite explosive and extremely short. The thesis argues that the emergence of modern retail formats in Korea was artificially delayed through consumption repression. It also argues that the explosive golden age of the department store industry was a result of the combination of two sets of behaviour: a strategic change by the department stores to focussing on necessities rather than luxuries; and the enthusiastic consumption attitude of consumers in response to previous consumption repression and consequent purchasing power. It shows that the short golden age of the department store industry was in addition closely related to the ownership structure of the big retail businesses which also owned other types of retail format. Companies made strategic decisions that led to the Korean department store sector moving back into the luxury market and giving the existing mass market up. The research also examined the application of the conflict theory of retail evolution to Korea, and the thesis argues that this theory is of limited applicability. Under Korean conditions of ownership, the evolution of retailing, particularly the department store format, was likely to depend not on competition and conflict between different types of retail format, but on mutual cooperation for the profit maximisation of the big retail businesses. The thesis also considers consumption as a criterion of equality or inequality, and argues that consumption should be regarded as a factor that had a huge effect on people's willingness to comply with the prevailing economic system.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Economics, History
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Economic History
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2339

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