By Kim Hyo-jin
A main opposition lawmaker heaped criticism Thursday on the Seoul High Court's ruling against limiting big retailers' operations.
Rep. Chun Soon-ok of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) said the decision went against public opinion favoring stronger regulation of large retailers, also known as "super supermarkets (SSMs)."
A poll conducted on Dec. 6 by Uri Research which sampled 1,000 adults, showed that 75.8 percent of respondents supported a mandatory closure rule, as well as a limit on operating hours.
Based on the results of the survey, Rep. Chun said that, "A majority of people are in favor of the restrictions on SSMs' operations and moves to protect smaller mom-and-pop stores."
Her response comes after last week's ruling that regulations on SSMs' businesses were unlawful. The Seoul High Court ruled in favor of the SSMs and overturned the existing ordinances forcing them to shut their doors on the second and fourth Sundays of every month and prohibit operating hours from midnight to 8 a.m.
The regulations were part of a government-wide move to curb the expansion of large-scale retailers and help smaller retailers.
The court made the ruling, saying it was difficult to judge if the rules actually helped smaller retailers while limiting consumers' choice at the same time.
This forced a backlash from small retailers and the opposition party, who argued that the court ignored the real purpose of the regulations, which was to create an environment where big and small retailers can co-exist better.
According to the survey by Uri Research, a large percentage of people think the expansion of SSMs has pushed small stores out of business, Rep. Chun said.