Nightlife Bars Flourish Despite Slow Economy

      May 13, 2011 10:18

      While the number of small eateries and snack bars around the country has declined in recent years, the number of nightlife bars and clubs has surged.

      According to statistics from the Korea Agro-Fisheries Trade Corporation, the number of drinking bars and clubs nationwide rose by 9.1 percent from 531,929 in 2005 to 580,505 in 2009. In particular, bars increased by 24.5 percent from 25,393 to 31,626.

      Even in 2009 when the economy slowed amid the global financial crisis, the number of bars kept rising as high-income earners continued to make up their main clientele.

      The number of workers at bars increased by 10.5 percent from 93,576 in 2005 to 103,387 in 2009, and overall bar revenues also jumped by 24.8 percent over the same period from W2.8 trillion to W3.5 trillion (US$1=W1,085). In contrast, small eateries that cater mainly to low-income earners dropped by 13.5 percent over the period from 52,553 to 45,454.

      Park June, a researcher at the Samsung Economic Research Institute, said, "This shows the stark contrast in consumption amid the increasing income gap in Korea."

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