South Korea's consumer prices grew at the fastest pace in seven months in March, driven in part by a rise in personal service costs, including private education, a government report showed Tuesday.
The country's consumer price index rose 1.3 percent in March from a year earlier, the fastest on-year rise since August last year when it gained 1.5 percent, according to the report by Statistics Korea.
This marked the first time since November that the growth rate has quickened on a month-to-month basis.
The core inflation, which excludes volatile oil and food prices, also rose 2.1 percent on-year in March, up from February when it rose 1.7 percent from a year earlier, the report showed.
"The rise in March is attributable to a pickup in costs of child-rearing facilities, kindergartens and private educational institutes as the new school season kicked off," an agency official said.
"The cost rose more than usual compared with last year when the government provided subsidies for such personal services."
The report showed that personal service prices rose 1.6 percent on-year in March, with the costs of private educational institutes for high school and elementary school students rising 3.3 percent and 3.4 percent.
Agricultural, livestock and fisheries prices remained subdued, dropping 3.1 percent on-year in March. In particular, fresh foods saw their costs fall 11.3 percent, the report showed.
Prices of oil-related products inched up 0.1 percent, with gasoline and diesel prices falling 5.4 percent and 5.1 percent on-year in March.
The "livelihood price" index, which measures the costs of key daily necessities, however, grew 0.8 percent last month, up from the previous month's 0.4 percent gain. This marked the fastest pace in seven months.
Utility service and home rental prices also remained high, apparently adding wrinkles to the livelihoods of low- and mid-income households.
The costs of electricity, tap water and gas jumped 4.3 percent on-year in March, while home rental prices also rose 2.5 percent over the same period, according to the report. (Yonhap)