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S. Korea's SMEs ministry to sell 1 million face masks at US$ 1 each Updated: 2020-02-19 16:02:23 KST

The spread of the coronavirus has made face masks a must-have item, not just in China, but also here in Korea.

"Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, Koreans have spent on average of over a hundred U.S. dollars on protective measures like masks and hand sanitizers."

The demand for those products has skyrocketed, and it can be hard to get your hands on them.

"I was able to buy face masks for around three dollars but now the price has doubled. And it's hard to find the masks I want at pharmacies or online because they are already out of stock."

While the face mask shortage spreads across the country, some local SMEs are not only pumping out masks for people in Korea but also offering them at half price.
One CEO says he was even offered 2 million dollars for a million face masks.

"It's unbelievable that people have to buy masks at unreasonable prices. Offering discounts at a time like this is the least that SMEs like us can do. We hope this stabilizes supplies and prices, encouraging other companies to do the same."

To further help solve the mask shortage, starting Wednesday, the Ministry of SMEs and Startups will release a million face masks at around one dollar each through its TV home shopping channel.
To prevent the hoarding of those products, they will be limited to one pack of 40 masks per customer.
The government is also helping local companies operating in China resume their economic activities.

"The Korean government provided emergency kits including masks to Korean SMEs based in China so that they could safely resume operations as their production is linked to manufacturing finished products in Korea."

The South Korean government has also approved tougher penalties against people who hoard protective masks and hand sanitizers.
Hoarders of those products can get up to two years in prison or a fine of around 42-thousand dollars.
In addition, all manufacturers and wholesalers of those products must make daily reports to the government on their sales made both at home and abroad.
Kim Dami, Arirang News.
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