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Volume 6 No. 265
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South Korea Cracking Down On Price-Gouging Hotels Ahead Of Games

As the 2018 Winter Olympics approach, the South Korean government is "cracking down on price-gouging hotels facing heavy criticism" for "ripping off customers," according to Thomas Maresca of USA TODAY. South Korea's Ministry of the Interior & Safety announced it is running an "intensive pricing clampdown" through Jan. 31, ahead of the PyeongChang Games, which start on Feb. 9. The average rate for hotel accommodations recently spiked to more than $460 per night, "more than triple the normal peak-season prices," according to a Yonhap report. Call centers have been set up to receive customer complaints in multiple languages. The moves come as part of the government's effort to "boost ticket sales" for the Games, which have been "sluggish overall but have picked up in recent weeks." Local hotel trade groups and the provincial government in Gangwon Province, where the event sites of PyeongChang and Gangneung are located, are also "pressing to get hotels to clean up their acts" (USA TODAY, 12/30).

READY TO HOST: YONHAP reported PyeongChang "reaffirmed its readiness" to host North Korea, with Pyongyang "expressing interest in participation." POCOG President Lee Hee-beom said that PyeongChang had been "preparing for a long time" for the possibility that North Korea would take part in the quadrennial event. Lee: "We're making preparations in case North Korea sends its athletes, cheering squad and support staff" (YONHAP, 1/3).

BRACING FOR COLD: In Seoul, Bak Se-hwan reported with heavy snow fall and freezing temperatures expected throughout PyeongChang 2018, the province's inter-agency task force is "prepared for snow-removal operations on roads in cooperation with local city and provincial governments." The task force was launched in March '17 to "deal with snow-related emergencies during the Olympics." PyeongChang's inner city roads that total 15.3km will also be monitored by Korea Expressway Corp. to clear snow and ice. During the Olympics, a "set of broad measures will be enforced by police to curb crimes," according to the National Police Agency and the Justice Ministry (KOREA HERALD, 1/3).