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Controversy or not, IKEA opens in S. Korea to throngs of customers

December 19, 2014
People line up in front of the Swedish furniture brand IKEA store in Gwangmyeong City, south of Seoul, on Dec. 18, 2014. IKEA plans to open four more stores in South Korea in the near future. (Yonhap)

People line up in front of the Swedish furniture brand IKEA store in Gwangmyeong City, south of Seoul, on Dec. 18, 2014. IKEA plans to open four more stores in South Korea in the near future. (Yonhap)

Swedish furniture maker IKEA opened the doors to its largest store ever in Gwangmyeong, South Korea on Dec. 18.

Hundreds of customers waited patiently in the freezing cold despite Ikea’s mishaps with the South Korean public.

One of the controversies arose about a month ago over a product of a world map that called what Koreans know as the “East Sea” as the “Sea of Japan” — a touchy subject among the two involved countries.

The next came when Ikea launched its online Korean site and consumers were quick to point out that for some products, prices were doubled compared to those in the United States and other countries.

A social media uproar followed soon thereafter.

This led IKEA to issue a public apology for the map, promising that they would stop selling it the following year.

As for the prices, there happened to be a few reasons that made it seem that the costs wouldn’t change any time soon.

“It is very much market specific pricing,” sales manager Andrew Johnson told Yonhap news. “We will go ahead with the prices. We are offering the lowest price products.”

To elaborate, foreign exchange rates, import tariffs and local sales tax also factor into deciding prices.

At the moment, it looks like many South Koreans are ready to forgive Ikea or possibly never had a problem at all.

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