Living in Seoul for several years, I’ve seen how Korean convenience stores evolved from simple and tiny 24/7 snack stores into bigger one-stop shops for food, goods and services attuned to the needs of modern Korean society. Korean convenience stores are increasingly living up to their name. They are not just growing in number of franchises but they are also providing more and more services to meet the demands of current lifestyle, especially with the increase of one-person households in the country.
My favorite convenience store is CU (Convenience Store for You) which is owned by BGF Retail, a joint venture of Japan’s Family Mart and Korea’s Bo Gwang Group. Let me show you what you can usually find inside.
If you like shopping online but you are not home during the day to receive your items, you can have it delivered to the nearest convenience store in your place. Some online shopping malls in Korea have partnership with convenience stores for this service. With just a small amount, the convenience store will receive and store the items for you. You just have to pick it up within a day.
There are also other services like battery exchange and even lotto tickets! In the past, people would have their phones charged at a convenience store but they had to wait for 30 minutes to have the phone fully charged. This has been upgraded to battery exchange service. You can exchange your depleted battery with fully-charged one for only 3,000 won. This service is available for any smartphone model.
When the weather is fine, tables and chairs are set up outside the store for those who want to enjoy drinking or eating. Sometimes, my husband and I go to CU late at night (wearing our pambahay clothes) and enjoy convenience store date. A bag of cheese popcorn and some beer are more than enough to make our night perfect. Hehe!
What do you usually buy at a Korean convenience store? Well, my husband doesn’t like this (coz he wants me to have a proper meal) but I admit I like eating samgak kimbap. It’s my all time favorite, especially the tuna mayo! 🙂
*Convenience store : 편의점 (pyeon-eui-jeom)