MAY 2003

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Asian Customers on Korea Street
From JoongAng
April 14, 2003
By Ahn, JoonYong

Korean businesses on 32nd street are welcoming an increasing number of Asian customers, mainly Chinese. These customers compensate the damaged Korean business in some way, helping it recover from a prolonging recession and the war in Iraq.

Stores have experienced a sharp increase in the number of customers, especially in Korean restaurants, record shops, video/DVD shops, and cafes.

Gam Mee Ok Restaaurant, known for its famous Sul Long Tang, a white ox-bone soup, already had been attracting many Japanese, and now welcomes other Asian customers. An employer mentioned, “Chinese customers love Korean fried pancakes and thin sliced beef as well as the beef noodle soup.” He explained, “These dishes are introduced by Korean international students to their other Asian friends, and as a result, we have more and more Japanese and Chinese customers recently.”

Won Jo, a restaurant nearby, sees a similar trend. An employer said, “Chinese customers prefer soups with lots of tofu, and they also enjoy side-dishes.”

Just across the street, Oppane, which sells office products and character merchandise is visited by many Asian students who are addicted to popular Korean character products.

HyunKwon Yoon, from the store, said, “Those characters such as Mashimaro, Hamster, and Pucca are extremely popular among Chinese customers. The Korean character industry is leading the related world market.”

At AM Music, a record and video/DVD shop, Japanese and other Asians occupy 60% of the total customers.

Jason Kim, the owner, mentioned, “Even some Chinese customers order Korean pop albums well before their release. It is not unusual anymore to find Chinese and other Asians who buy Korean pop albums and go to eat Korean barbeque.”

Jerome, a customer at the store said, “I became familiar with Korean pop culture through many Korean friends, and now I’m a big fan of Korean popstars, such as BabyVox and Shinwha.”

Translated from Korean by JooYeon Lee

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