[THE INVESTOR] The price of soju rose 11.7 percent in 2016 on-year, the highest rate of increase since 2000, according to statistical agency on Jan. 9.
Prior price hikes for soju were 8 percent in 2001-2002 and 3.7 percent in 2014-2015. Last year’s rise is nearly threefold that of the most recent increase, according to Statistics Korea.
The cost of eating out on average was up 2.5 percent from the previous year, as the prices of popular dishes, including beef and raw fish, were raised in the 4 percent range. The only food item whose prices declined was locally made tea, which dropped 0.1 percent, statistics showed.
Prices of spaghetti, coffee, chicken, hamburgers and duck meat rose under 1 percent.
The rising cost of restaurant food compares with a 1 percent rise in consumer prices for the year, making dining out more of a luxury, agency officials said.
In case of soju, restaurants are also to blame for the price rise, according to the officials. While soju manufacturers have been raising the factory price from the end of 2015, restaurants have marked up the prices on scales of 500 won (US$0.42) and 1,000 won instead of 100 won, apparently for easier billing.