Convenience for You: the Convenience Stores of Korea

Friday, April 1, 2016 - 11:00pm to Saturday, April 2, 2016 - 12:00am
Convenience Store City in Paju
40,000 won for members, 45,000 won for non-members
Tour Leader: 
Sir Robert Trout

This RASKB tour highlights Korea's rich history and heritage of convenience stores.

We will travel north to Paju to visit the newly constructed Convenience Store City, home to 250 convenience stores in an 875,000 square meter area. The first plans for Paju Convenience Store City were created in 1989 by a group of convenience store owners that would be based solely on the idea of convenience stores and their products, and that this model village would be the most convenient place in the world, built in harmony with the existing environment of the area.

Our first stop will be the in-station Storyway convenience store, where we will get the cashier to tell us the story of Korean convenience store history, while our guide takes a much-needed early break. Storyway exclusively employs authors and poets in a way to promote employment in the literary community.

The first convenience store in Korea was a 7/11 aboard the General Sherman, a merchant marine vessel that visited Korea in 1866. The Koreans, having consumed Slurpees for the first time, reacted negatively to a brain freeze, setting it afire along with the US ship. 7/11 stayed out of the Korean market until 1895, when it opened its first Seoul location in Jeong-dong, in the basement of Jungmyeongjeon. That location no longer exists, but we will visit one of the 55 locations within the Paju complex.

Family Mart came to Korea during the Japanese occupation (1910-45). After the end of World War II, the Japanese owners had to leave the country, and their stores were taken over by Koreans. When diplomatic relations were re-established in 1965, the legal dispute was settled. It wasn't until 2012 that the Koreans, seeing Family Mart as a grim reminder of the occupation, changed the name to CVS 4 U (CU). Today, there are 60 million CUs in Korea. We will meet with a special guide from BGF Retail for a presentation and a snack of canned coffee and energy bars.

We will have a more thorough sampling of delicacies at Ministop, a Japanese-operated convenience store whose locations are staffed by trained chefs. There, we will be served fried chicken skewers and triangle gimbab by graduates of the Le Cordon Bleu culinary institute.

Outside, we will meet with a local expert in traditional patio architecture, who will introduce us to some of the premium plastic products at , including flimsy blue chairs, red-and-black stools, and patio tables with umbrellas. Soju, in five new flavours including apple, lime, honey butter, light beer, and diesel, will be available along with potato chips for anyone willing to spend extra.

We will wander over to a dairy facility in the complex where many dairy products are produced, including banana milk, chocolate milk, and grape milk. Participants will get the chance to try milking a banana.

After that, we will visit GS25, operated in Korea since 1990 by the 25 Corporation. The sales clerk will introduce their special metric timekeeping system that runs on a 25-hour day.

Then, we will go to a nearby With Me, which hosts another world's first: inside this With Me is found a second, smaller With Me with its own products and clerk inside.

The final stop is an archaeological site, where the Convenience Store Heritage Administration is unearthing a former Buy the Way location, closed in 2010. The dig so far has uncovered artefacts from a holiday long since lost to the ages, known as April Fool's Day.

Sir Robert Trout, the CEO of the Royal Asiatic Society, is a longtime customer of convenience stores. He reckons he's spent more than 10 million won at convenience stores in Korea over the past 35 years.

Meet the group by the Storyway at the bottom of the stairs of Exit 13, Convenience Store Station [편의점역] on line 10 of the Seoul Metro, at 11PM.
A GS25 in Korea

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Upon confirmation, make a payment to Sail Bank 123-456-789000 (RAS-KB)

Contact Us

Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch
Room 611, Korean Christian Building, Daehak-ro 19 (Yeonji-dong), Jongno-gu, Seoul 03129
[03129] 서울시 종로구 대학로 19 (연지동) 한국기독교회관 611호

Office is normally open as follows:

Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays & Saturdays:
                                   10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Wednesdays & Thursdays: 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Please call before your visit.
Phone (02) 763-9483 FAX (02) 766-3796

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