[From the Scene]South Korea’s counterfeit market is alive and well

0

Yellow tents are clustered at the Dongdaemun Saebit market on Wednesday evening. (Jie Ye-eun/The Korea Herald)

Dongdaemun Market is the center of Korea’s clothing and fashion industry. Near the market is another “secret” spot for shoppers who want luxury fashion items but can’t afford them. This place is called Dongdaemun Saebit Market, the largest counterfeit designer goods market in the country.

Near exits 2 and 3 of the Dongdaemun Design Plaza station, around 80 small yellow tents are clustered, selling counterfeit luxury fashion items that roughly resemble expensive brands such as Moncler, Thom Browne, Cartier and Rolex. The products offered include almost all types of fashion items, from bags and clothing to running shoes and watches.

Despite growing concerns about the fast-spreading omicron variant and sub-zero temperatures, the fake creator market was crowded with eager buyers. Although the place only operates at night from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., more and more people flocked to the place as time went on later in the night.

Replica Moncler clothes are on display at Dongdaemun Saebit Market.  (Jie Ye-eun/The Korea Herald)

Replica Moncler clothes are on display at Dongdaemun Saebit Market. (Jie Ye-eun/The Korea Herald)

“This is the new long down jacket from Moncler. (The genuine product) costs about 2.8 million won ($2,330), but I’ll give it to you for 220,000 won. More discounts! I was selling it for 280,000 won last week,” said a salesperson who looked to be in his 40s when the Korea Herald reporter glanced at the article.

Although there are many “categories” of counterfeit products, ranging from obviously fake to nearly identical, another seller has lured buyers by promoting their products as “Ultra A” grade products – products very high quality counterfeits. Prices were less than 10% of genuine products. His clients seemed mostly in their 20s to 40s.

“I brought good local things. High quality products are made in Korea, but the majority of clothes are imported from overseas, such as China… Since it takes so long to import wholesale (clothes), especially during the pandemic, I would like to be able to bring more local products. But the factories are there to avoid repression. I can’t help myself,” the salesman whispered to the reporter.

Shoppers at Dongdaemun Saebit Market look at counterfeit luxury items on Wednesday night.  (Jie Ye-eun/The Korea Herald)

Shoppers at Dongdaemun Saebit Market look at counterfeit luxury items on Wednesday night. (Jie Ye-eun/The Korea Herald)

Meanwhile, some sellers have warned customers that “photos and recordings are not allowed.” Since it is illegal to sell and import counterfeit products, they paid special attention to visitors’ smartphones. Buyers and buyers only sold products in cash and by bank transfer. The items sold were put back in black plastic bags. The vendors’ trucks were parked right next to their yellow tents, apparently ready to flee in case the police came for random inspections, which can happen at any time.

Two clients in their thirties were returning home with their hands full of black bags. While it was their third visit to the market, they had spent about 800,000 won that day on a short down jacket, two mini shoulder bags and a pair of sports shoes. They seemed very pleased with their purchases, saying, “Although we spent some money, we feel like we saved a lot.

A shopper looks at a fake Prada shoulder bag at the Dongdaemun Saebit market on Wednesday evening.  (Jie Ye-eun/The Korea Herald)

A shopper looks at a fake Prada shoulder bag at the Dongdaemun Saebit market on Wednesday evening. (Jie Ye-eun/The Korea Herald)

Those who violate the country’s trademark law can be sent to prison for up to seven years or fined up to 100 million won. Local authorities are cracking down on these cases, but an increasing number of illegal transactions are taking place these days. In some European countries, buyers of counterfeit products can also face up to three years in prison or up to 300,000 euros ($336,800) in fines. However, in Korea, there is no law to penalize those who buy counterfeit products.

According to data compiled by the Korea Customs Service, about 467.9 billion won worth of counterfeit bags, or 1,866 cases, were seized from January 2017 to August last year. Louis Vuitton was the most frequent victim of counterfeiting, followed by Chanel, Gucci and Hermès. The local fashion industry also predicts that the number of fakes has increased during the pandemic as people opt to secretly buy and sell the copies through social media platforms.

Experts note that Koreans are obsessed with fake designer items. According to Kwak Geum-joo, a psychology professor at Seoul National University, the country’s collectivism and people’s overt consumption tendencies are increasing their unhealthy cravings.

Counterfeit watches that look like high-priced brands are on display at Dongdaemun Saebit Market.  (Jie Ye-eun/The Korea Herald)

Counterfeit watches that look like high-priced brands are on display at Dongdaemun Saebit Market. (Jie Ye-eun/The Korea Herald)

“Korean society is very sensitive to trends and people care a lot about others. To feel a sense of belonging, people choose to follow others to get involved in a group. Also, to achieve superiority over others, they tend to wear expensive items to show off,” the expert told the Korea Herald.

“But because they cost too much, some choose to buy counterfeit items. They may even find joy in deceiving others. However, their trend should not change since the purchase of counterfeit items is also a consumer habit.

Consumer studies professor Lee Eun-hee of Inha University attributed consumers’ buying behavior of counterfeit products to a strong sense of rivalry. Lee used the phrase “Going green with envy” as an example. At the same time, the expert stressed the importance of raising awareness of intellectual property rights.

“Not only selling, but buying counterfeit products is stealing. The law of the land should be strengthened to stop such illegal actions, but the competent authorities must actively inform the public that it is wrong. Consumer education can also be done through various campaigns. »

By Jie Ye-eun (yeeun@heraldcorp.com)

Share.

Comments are closed.