Lotte Himart Reports Narrowed Net Losses in 2023Seoul Court Rules Against Ban on Rallies Near Presidential Office

SEOUL - Lotte Himart Co., the electronics sales arm of South Korea's Lotte Group, has reported a significant reduction in its net losses for the year 2023. The company's focus on high-end products has been credited with improving its financial performance.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Lotte Himart's net losses for 2023 totaled 27.2 billion won (approximately US$20 million), a marked decrease from the 527.9 billion won loss in 2022. This improvement was attributed to increased sales of value-added home appliances and private-brand products, which bolstered the company's bottom line despite a decline in overall sales due to an economic slowdown. Additionally, the company reported a shift to an operating profit of 8.22 billion won, compared to an operating loss of 52 billion won in the previous period, even as sales fell 22 percent to 2.61 trillion won from 3.34 trillion won.

SEOUL - In a notable decision, the Seoul High Court ruled on Wednesday that the ban on rallies around the presidential office in Seoul's Yongsan district is unlawful. This ruling marks a significant moment for public demonstrations near the seat of South Korea's executive power.

According to Yonhap News Agency, The case was brought forth by the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, a major civic group, after their request to hold a rally near the defense ministry compound, which includes President Yoon Suk Yeol's office, was denied by police in May 2022. The central legal question involved the applicability of the Assembly and Demonstration Act, which prohibits rallies within 100 meters of the presidential residence, to the presidential office in Yongsan. The issue arose due to the relocation of the presidential office to Yongsan and the presidential residence to the nearby district of Hannam after President Yoon's election. Previously, both the office and residence were housed in Cheong Wa Dae. The Seoul Administrative Court had previously ruled in favor of the civic group in January of the previous year, stating that the presidential office should not be considered part of the presidential residence and thus not subject to the ban. The appellate court has now upheld this decision. Separately, in December 2022, the Constitutional Court also ruled that banning rallies around the presidential residence was unconstitutional, calling for a revision to the Assembly and Demonstration Act.

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