Once you’ve watched a few K-dramas, you’ve probably noticed that the characters tend to spend a lot of time in convenience stores. This may seem odd to a western audience at first, but the convenience store culture in Korea is a big part of daily life. In this article, we’ll explore why convenience stores are so popular in Korea, what role they play in Korean society, and some of the most commonly eaten foods at Korean convenience stores.
Let’s talk first about the role of the convenience store in Korean society. Convenience stores in Korea are open 24/7 and can be found on almost every street corner. They are a convenient place for people to grab a quick snack or drink, pay bills, buy toiletries, and even do some light grocery shopping. Because they are open around the clock, convenience stores have become a gathering place for people from all walks of life. They provide a place for people to meet up, hang out, and even study. For students, they’re a popular spot for late-night cram sessions.
Another reason why convenience stores are so popular in Korea is that they offer facilities for customers to prepare and eat their food on the premises. Many Korean convenience stores have microwaves, hot water dispensers, and even stoves, allowing customers to heat up or cook their food before consuming it. Some stores also provide seating areas, which make them an attractive option for people looking for a quick and affordable meal on the go.
So, what are some of the most commonly eaten foods at Korean convenience stores? Well, there are a few staples that you’re likely to find at any convenience store in Korea. One popular option is kimbap, a type of sushi roll filled with vegetables, egg, and sometimes meat. Ramen noodles, instant rice, and other pre-packaged meals are also popular choices. For snacks, you might find things like fried chicken, rice cakes, or sweet pastries like hoddeok.
Now let’s talk about some scenes from K-dramas that take place in convenience stores. In Good Manager, which aired in 2017, convenience stores owned by the TQ Group play a prominent role. The main character, Kim Sung-ryong, is an accountant working for TQ Group. He is also constantly eating snacks, and he regularly visits TQ convenience stores to buy more. Sometimes he meets his fellow TQ accountants, or other members of the cast, as well so much of the drama unfolds there.
In another K-drama, “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo,” the main character Kim Bok-joo and her friends frequently hang out at a convenience store near their university. They eat kimbap, instant noodles, and drink soda while chatting and studying. This illustrates the convenience store’s role as a gathering place for friends and a popular spot for students to study.
Convenience stores play an important role in Korean society and are a common gathering place for people from all walks of life, so it’s just natural that K-dramas that explore modern life in Korea will take place in them. The next time a character from your favourite show is sat in a convenience store window slurping noodles, you’ll know why!