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SK Networks applies for two duty-free licenses in Seoul

SK Networks said Tuesday it hopes to keep its existing duty-free store in a luxury hotel in eastern Seoul and wants to open another in Dongdaemun, a major fashion district, to expand its retail sector.

The trading and hotel unit under SK Group is up against Lotte, Shinsegae and Doosan in a heated competition to win three operating licenses for Seoul duty-free stores that are set to expire this year.

SK Networks has a store in the Sheraton Grand Walkerhill Hotel in the southeastern part of the capital, while envisioning another at a shopping mall in Dongdaemun area, which has seen significant growth in foreign travelers.

"Our goal is not just aimed at keeping the current Walkerhill store. We want to expand the duty-free business to the Dongdaemun area," SK Networks CEO Moon Jong-hoon said in a briefing. "Although Dongdaemun market has become a popular tourism spot, it has yet to have a duty-free shop. A new duty-free store is urgently needed for the convenience of foreign tourists."

Dongdaemun is the second most-visited shopping district by foreigners after Myeongdong and is crowded with shoppers hunting for designer clothes at cheap prices.

The company said it will invest 90 billion won ($79.4 million) into the Walkerhill store and 150 billion won in the Dongdaemun store, to upgrade the tourism infrastructure for the bid, without elaborating on detailed plans.

SK Networks was widely expected to get the go-ahead to continue operations at the current location when its license expires in November as renovation of the Walkerhill store is near completion this year.

For the Dongdaemun location, it has to compete with Doosan Group, a construction and machinery conglomerate that applied for a license with a venue in the Dongdaemun area as well. (Yonhap)

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