South Korea’s consumer price rises 2.9 percent in April Xinhua

A woman shops at a supermarket in Seoul, South Korea, August 3, 2022. (Xinhua/Wang Yiliang)

SEOUL, May 3 (Xinhua) — South Korea’s consumer price increase slowed to below 3 percent in April despite still high prices for agricultural products, statistics agency data showed on Thursday.

According to Statistics Korea, the consumer price index (CPI) rose 2.9 percent in April from a year earlier, after remaining above 3 percent for the past two months.

Headline inflation remained higher than the Bank of Korea’s (BOK) medium-term inflation target of 2 percent. The BOK had left its reference interest rate unchanged at 3.50 percent since January last year.

Prices for agricultural, livestock and fishing products rose 10.6 percent year-on-year in April, pushing headline inflation up 0.77 percentage points.

The price of agricultural products rose by 20.3 percent last month and hovered above 20 percent for three months in a row.

The apple price shot up by 80.8 percent, with the pear price more than doubling this month. Prices for tomatoes and Chinese cabbage rose by double digits.

Prices for livestock and fishery products rose by 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent respectively.

The price of oil products rose by 1.3 percent in April compared to a year earlier, after an increase of 1.2 percent in the previous month.

Prices for industrial products, including oil products, rose 2.2 percent last month, pushing headline inflation up 0.74 percentage points.

The price of processed food rose 1.6 percent in April, following a 1.4 percent increase in the previous month.

People go shopping at a supermarket in Seoul, South Korea, August 3, 2022. (Xinhua/Wang Yiliang)

Prices for electricity, natural gas and tap water rose by 4.9 percent this month, pushing overall inflation up by 0.19 percentage points.

The electricity bill increased by 4.3 percent, while city gas and heating costs increased by 5.6 percent and 12.1 percent respectively.

Prices for private services, including the cost of eating out, rose 2.8 percent last month, while prices for public services rose 2.2 percent.

Spending on dining out increased by 3.0 percent, pushing inflation up by 0.42 percentage points.

Residential rental prices, including Jeonse and monthly rent, remained unchanged in April compared to a year earlier.

Jeonse is the unique contract in South Korea between two households where a landlord grants a two-year right of residence to a tenant, who in turn lends a certain amount (or deposit) to the landlord.

The subsistence index, which measures the price of daily necessities, rose 3.5 percent in April, after rising 3.8 percent the previous month.

The fresh food index, which measures the price of fish, shellfish, fruits and vegetables, rose 19.1 percent last month, maintaining double-digit growth for the seventh month in a row.

Demand-side inflationary pressures remained relatively low. The core consumer price index, which excludes volatile agricultural and oil products, rose 2.2 percent last month.

The core price according to the OECD method, excluding volatile energy and food costs, rose by 2.3 percent.