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Korea's Coffee Culture: Coffee Becomes Social Pastime Updated: 2012-11-28 00:00:00 KST

Korea's Coffee Culture: Coffee Becomes Social Pastime
28-year-old Kim Mi-hyun and her friends are spending the evening at a local coffee shop.
It's cups of caffeinated goodness for everyone.. as they talk about work, school and the events of the day.

[Interview : Kim Mi-hyun, Customer] "My friends and I are just hanging out, catching up with one another.// We could spend up to 3 to 4 hours here."

[Interview : Kim Su-in, Customer] "Coming to coffee shops is convenient. We all live with our families so it's not easy to invite people over. And we can hang out here for as long as we want."

And hanging out for as long as they want is very possible at coffee shops these days.

[Reporter : Connie Lee
connie@arirang.co.kr] "Many coffee shops in Korea are open late -- until 10 or at 11 at night. Some are even open 24 hours -- so you can get your cup of coffee anytime of the day."

Once they arrive, coffee drinkers are actually encouraged to stay for awhile.
Many shops offer books to read and a variety of goodies to eat along with plenty of comfortable places to sit.

[Interview : Lee Eun-jin, Marketing Team
Caffe Pascucci] "With comfortable leather seats and lots of cushions like these, we hope our clients will stay awhile. Whether they're here studying or chatting with friends, we want to create a friendly atmosphere for them."

Experts see the rise in popularity of coffee shops as a social trend.

[Interview : Shin Kwang-yeong, Sociologist
Chung-Ang University ] "It's a kind of a new trend [for Koreans] to consume symbolic goods instead of real goods. A real good is coffee itself; and atmosphere is a symbolic good."

Many people have begun to go to coffee shops to enjoy the atmosphere.. more than enjoying the coffee itself.

[Interview : Shin Kwang-yeong, Sociologist
Chung-Ang University ] "Coffee is not so different from coffee shop to coffee shop. But consumers began to recognize the different atmospheres, the different feelings across coffee shops."

[Interview : Andy Hong, Customer] "I like to go to the ones that have really nice atmosphere and really nice decorations."

So it looks like here in Korea.. the PLACE for coffee trumps the taste of it.
Connie Lee, Arirang News.
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