All shutters are closed at Uniqlo's store in Seoul's Yongsan Station. A sign notes that it is under refurbishment. The Korea News Plus

Japanese apparel maker shuts down shops in downtown Seoul

Uniqlo is closing down stores in Seoul, which leads to speculation that the Japanese clothing retailer reduces its operation in Korea amid Korean consumers’ boycott of made-in-Japan products.

Uniqlo recently said that its store in Jongno 3-ga will close in October because it decided not to extend the lease contract with the building owner.

The store, which has been operating for the past decade, will be the first Uniqlo shop to close after Koreans started the boycott campaign against Japanese products last month.

A Uniqlo store at AK Plaza shopping mall in western Seoul will also close late this month. But the measure was planned before the boycott was launched, according to Uniqlo.

Also of note is that Uniqlo’s branch in Seoul’s Yongsan Station went through the refurbishment of late.

On July 4, Tokyo announced its intention to impose curbs on exports of high-tech materials to Seoul, which prompted the nationwide boycott of Japanese products and services.

The unprecedented step enraged Koreans because the country’s companies use them to churn out its two major export items of semiconductors and flat-panel displays.

In particular, Uniqlo became one of the major targets because its CFO said that the boycott “will not last long” to affect its long-term sales.

Uniqlo came up with apology twice but failed to appease angry consumers here. Some even urge the outfit to leave Korea.

As a result, the sales of the retailer that tapped into Korea in 2005 plunged. Uniqlo is currently the business bellwether in Korea with around 180 stores across the country.

Meanwhile, Uniqlo countered that closing of its stores in Jongno 3-ga and AK Plaza is just a part of its business operation, which is not related to the boycott.


Related stories

The publisher studied Korean history in Seoul and management of business administration in the United Kingdom. He has 20-year experiences in the media business. Kim can be reached at voc200@gmail.com or 82-2-6956-6698.