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Landlords in S. Korea reduce rent burden for merchants struggling due to COVID-19 Updated: 2020-03-01 12:08:48 KST

"One of the busiest traditional markets in South Korea, Namdaemum Market, has never been this empty.
With the dramatic drop in customers, merchants are struggling to pay their rent."

"Sales have fallen to just one third but the rent remains the same. We're dying."

To lift that rent burden, landlords at Namdaemun market have decided to lower their rent by twenty percent for the next three months.
The lower rents will apply to almost 2-thousand stores at the market.

"We need small merchants in order to survive. That means, as landlords, it's our responsibility to take care of them."

"I am a landlord who is also a merchant. Merchants have to thrive in order for landlords to thrive. I lowered the rent for all of us to prosper and live together."

For merchants who are grappling with the virus, such a decision at this time means more than anything.

"In such a difficult time, I hope all the merchants at Namdaemum market get to enjoy the same benefits, not just us."

The lowering of rents, in fact, originated in the city of Jeonju two years ago where increased popularity had led to skyrocketing rents so a group of landlords got together to lower rents at Jeonju Hanok Village.
Landlords in the village are now offering an extra 10 percent offon top of the discount they've offered for the last two years.
As of Tuesday, 190 landlords are lifting that rent burden from over 3-thousand stores across the nation.
Some landlords in Daegu, which has seen a large number of confirmed cases, have frozen rents during the stores' closure period, and some are not even collecting rent.
To encourage more landlords to follow suit, the government will soon announce benefits that recognize and reward the so called "kind landlords".

"The Ministry of SMEs and Startups is working with the Finance Ministry to provide incentives for those landlords offering rent discounts."

Possible measures include providing landlords with tax credits of around fifteen to twenty percent.
In addition, the Ministry of SMEs is considering making it easier for more merchants and small businesses to get loans.
Kim Dami, Arirang News.
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