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Yoon's office apologizes for flip-flop on overseas direct purchases ban

May 20, 2024 - 09:45 By Yonhap
Lee Jeong-won (center), 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 Sunday. (Yonhap)

The presidential office apologized Monday for causing confusion among consumers by reversing its plan to ban direct overseas purchases of products that do not have a national certification mark.

Sung Tae-yoon, director of national policy at the presidential office, made the remark after the government backtracked on its proposed ban on direct overseas purchases of 80 types of goods that have not received the Korea Certification (KC) safety mark.

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.

"We apologize for causing confusion and inconvenience to the public with the recent government announcement regarding overseas direct purchases," Sung said in a press briefing.

Although the proposed requirement of KC certification for overseas direct purchases was intended to ensure public safety, Sung said the government failed to fully consider the drawbacks of excessively restricting consumer choice and causing inconvenience to the people.

Related agencies also fell short of accurately explaining that only products confirmed to be harmful would be blocked before any amendments, causing misunderstanding and confusion among consumers, Sung said.

The government will explore ways to balance consumer choice and public safety without imposing excessive restrictions and will draw up measures to prevent a recurrence of policy confusion, he added.

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. (Yonhap)