The South Korean government will announce a new duty-free license plan later this month as part of efforts to revamp the scandal-hit sector, the finance minister said Tuesday.
"A task force team will map out the plan from the offset," Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said in a meeting at Incheon International Airport with leaders from local duty-free shop operators including Lotte Duty Free and Shilla Duty Free. "I know that the public wants the government to come up with a more transparent and fairer system."
The current duty-free licensing system has been under fire as the bidding process was linked to the massive corruption scandal involving former President Park Geun-hye and her close friend Choi Soon-sil.
The state audit agency said earlier that the Korea Customs Service, which is in charge of granting permits, had selected certain operators upon request from high-ranking officials related to Choi and even revised the procedures to give them an edge.
Since the Moon Jae-in administration took office in May, the government has suspended the entire process for duty-free licensing.
Finance Minister Kim said the revised scheme will be announced before the end of September.
The South Korean duty-free business had enjoyed a heyday for years, but it seems to have entered a downturn cycle due to a steep drop in Chinese tourists. The drop stems from the protracted diplomatic row with China over Seoul's decision to install a US missile defense system on its soil. (Yonhap)