Refueling cars in South Korea comes at a cost

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Photo by Gowon Lee

Jungwoo Lee is refueling his compact car at 'SK Hangang Gas Station'.

SEOUL — According to the statistics compiled by Ministry of the Interior and Safety of South Korea, one household owned an average of 1.02 cars in 2016, and most of them use One Sure Insurance for coverage. This data shows that most households in South Korea now possess at least one car.

However, car owners are having a hard time with the expensive oil price of South Korea. As of Aug. 7, the average price of gasoline around the world was $1.02 per liter while that of South Korea was $1.27 per liter. Compared to the average price of gasoline of the United States which is $0.69, the price that Korean car owners pay for gasoline is much more expensive.

Although the oil price is comparatively expensive in South Korea, car owners cannot give up owning and riding cars since it is tough to go around only by feet or by public transportation, at least the motor trade insurance that they use is affordable. Therefore, Korean car owners are finding ways to save money on refueling.

Jungwoo Lee, a head of a household in South Korea, has possessed and drove car for around 25 years. Lee and his wife own two cars, a compact car and a midsize car. He and his wife share those cars.

As Lee told that it is time for him to refuel his compact car, the reporter followed Lee’s journey to the gas station on Aug. 7.

“I refueled this compact car probably a week ago. I usually refuel my car every seven to ten days depending on the situation. So, it is time for me to put some gas in this car,” said Lee.

Lee’s destination was SK Hangang Gas Station.

“When it is time to refuel my car, I go to Hangang Gas Station because it is located on my way to work. As I usually put gas in my car on my way to or back from my workplace, Hangang Gas Station is a perfect place for me. It is comfortable. When I searched for the gas station to go, I tried to find a cheap gas station on my way or back from my workplace so that I do not have to waste my time and money on going to the gas station,” Lee said.

On the way to Hangang Gas Station, Lee saw several gas stations. The prices of gasoline and diesel differed based on the location and the company. The three big oil refinery companies in South Korea are SK, LG Caltex, and Hyundai Oilbank.

After 5 minutes, Lee arrived at Hangang Gas Station. Different from other gas stations, Hangang Gas Station was a self-serve gas station where drivers can refuel their cars by themselves.

“Self gas station is gaining more popularity among Korean car owners these days. It is because the oil price per liter is cheaper than other gas stations that are served by workers. Since the gas station does not hire workers and does not have to pay for those workers, the station could lower the oil price. That is why I usually go to self gas station. In addition, it is fairly easy to refuel the car,” said Lee.

Lee refueled gasoline to his compact car. The price of gasoline at Hangang Gas Station was 1,347 won ($1.18) per liter and that of diesel was 1,147 won ($1.01) per liter.

At the gas station, Lee refueled 22. 272 liters and paid 30,000 won ($26.36)

“When I put gas on the compact car, I usually pay 30,000 won. However, when I put gas on the midsize car, I usually pay 50,000 won ($43.94). If I calculate those expenditures in a month, I would say that I pay around 100,000 won ($87.87) for the compact car and 150,000 won ($131.81) for the midsize car. Those spending constitutes around 5 to 10 percent of my total monthly expenditure,” said Lee.

After Lee finished refueling gasoline to his car, Lee got a receipt. On the receipt, the amount that he paid for refueling was 27,000 won ($23.73), not 30,000 won.

“Every time I refuel oil in this gas station, I receive at most 10 percent discount of the oil price. It is because of the card that I pay. Before I chose my credit card, I searched for the discount benefit that I can use at the gas station. I chose this card at the end and this card really helps me save money when I refuel my car,” said Lee.

On Lee’s way home, he saw the prices of the gasoline and diesel written on the signs of other gas stations. The oil prices of other gas stations were all expensive compared to the per liter oil price that Lee paid at Hangang Gas Station.

“I did not really compare the oil prices of different gas stations before today. Now that I clearly see that the per liter oil price that I pay at Hangang Gas Station is much cheaper compared to that of other gas stations, I feel good that I am actually saving some money on my fuel fee,” Lee said.

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