SEJONG -- The country's anti-trust regulator said Monday it has found 14 online sellers of face masks in possible violation of fair trade laws, amid surging demand for protective masks over the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Some of the online sellers have been accused of unilaterally canceling orders and selling face masks at higher market prices, the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said in a statement.
For instance, one online vendor unilaterally canceled orders for 119,450 face masks between Jan. 20 and Feb. 4 and then raised prices before selling the masks to other buyers, the FTC said.
If any irregularities are found, the web-based vendors will face administrative punishment, the FTC said.
Earlier this month, the government approved tougher penalties on the hoarding of protective masks and hand sanitizer in light of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, believed to have originated in China.
Under the new rules, a person who hoards such products will face a prison sentence of up to two years or a maximum fine of 50 million won ($42,000). The government also decided to push forward measures to compel manufacturers and wholesalers of protective face masks and hand sanitizer to report to the authorities before shipping or selling their products.
Under the planned measures, all manufacturers are required to make daily reports on the amount delivered in the domestic market as well as the amount to be exported. (Yonhap)