South Korea’s consumer prices shot up in September as bad weather conditions caused a surge in the prices of fresh vegetables and fish, a government report showed Friday.
According to the report by Statistics Korea, the consumer price index rose 3.6 percent last month from a year earlier. The number marks the first time since the 3.1 percent gain in January that the index’s rise exceeded the 3 percent mark.
Compared to the previous month, consumer prices went up 1.1 percent, raising concerns that the country may be facing inflationary pressures that can hurt economic growth. The gain is the greatest since March 2003 when consumer prices rose 1.2 percent from the previous month.
“Last month’s increase was mainly caused by fresh produce prices that rose 45.5 percent on-year as bad weather affected supply and the Chuseok holidays contributed to greater demand,” Yang Dong-hee, head of the price statistics division at the state agency, said.
Chuseok, or the autumn harvest holiday that fell on Sept. 22 this year, usually causes consumer prices to go up as people buy and prepare more food and gifts to share with family and friends.
It said excluding volatile agricultural, fisheries and fuel products, the country’s consumer prices rose 1.9 percent on-year and 0.3 percent from the month before.
The report showed prices for industrial products rising 2.2 percent from a year earlier, with prices in the service sector increasing 2.0 percent. There was no gain in the health care, communications and recreational sectors compared to August, with gasoline prices edging down 0.8 percent.
The statistical office, meanwhile, expected consumer prices to fall off in October if the prices of farm and fisheries products stabilize (PNA/Yonhap)