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S.Korea - Many Gas Stations Going Out of Business

An increasing number of gas stations are shutting down in South Korea largely attributed to the prolonged economic slump and protracted high oil price trend.

According to the Korea Oil Station Association (KOSA) Monday, 88 gas stations closed in Korea between January and September this year. Only 76 gas stations closed during the same period a year earlier.

KOSA said of the 11,402 gas stations nationwide, 20 gas stations closed in Kyonggi Province, 14 in South Cholla Province, 10 in Seoul, nine in North Cholla Province, six South Kyongsang Province and a combined five in Pusan, Taegu, Taejon and North Chungchong Province.

The number of gas stations in Seoul reduced sharply from 886 at the end of 1996 to 739 at the end of last year and to 729 at the end of last September.

Meanwhile, KOSA said there are a total of 111 gas stations laying idle across the nation. The number of gas stations that suspended their businesses due to low profitability was the greatest in Kangwon Province with 21, trailed by North Chungchong Province with 20, South Cholla Province with 14, North Kyongsang Province with 14, Kyonggi Province with 11 and South Kyonggi Province with 10.

``The continued economic slowdown and high price trend of gasoline have significantly worsened profitability of local gas stations, leaving companies with no choice but to abandon the oil station business for their subsistence. The decrease in the number of gas stations in Seoul region is more striking because of the higher wage level and land prices,'' said a KOSA official.

Editorial Notes: Published by Korea Times 8 Nov. -LJ

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