Monday, January 29, 2007

Used Cars

Some of our Korean friends bought a used car. It was several years old but miraculously only had 6,000 miles on the clock. What's more, because there was a tenuous six-degrees of separation style social connection between the buyer and the garage owner, he sold it to them for a really special price - 3,700,000 won (about £2,000). Not bad really for something which was supposed to be mechanically almost new.

Of course, as it turns out clocking cars is rife in Korea, everyone knows it goes on and in a curious kind of way everyone accepts it. While there is an official system of some kind which is meant to prevent this kind of thing going on, it seems as though the actual regulation of the rules is fairly slack and in fact, subject to some... flexibility with respect to the people administering them. In the UK, we have an annual MoT for any car above three years of age, in which the car is thoroughly tested for defects and compliance to emission standards. In Korea the test is once every three years, and judging from the amount of dirt I've seen a lot of vehicles throw out on the streets of Busan, I can only imagine that emission standards and air-quality are not matters which keep the Korean government awake at night. Just me.

Having bought the car, our friends went to a park to perform a ceremony where it was blessed for good luck. This involved putting up a table in front of it, pouring out some alcohol into a cup, and then pouring the alcohol on to each of the wheels in turn in order that the car would 'run well'. No photos of the event are taken though, as this may rob the ceremony of its spiritual value. Unfortunately the car didn't run well immediately as it needed to go back to the garage a couple of hours later to have its brake pads replaced.

A story from another car dealer somewhere in the greater social network was related to me later. Asked if he ever over-priced his cars when he sold to immediate family members, said car dealer said "of course, I think it's OK if I charge them as much as I can, as long as I take my mother out for a nice meal afterwards because it evens things up." Used car dealers are notorious back home, but it seems that even they have something to learn from how things are done here.

No comments:

Post a Comment