August 15, 2019 08:33
Karaoke rooms are disappearing as the lifestyles of working people change.
Once wildly popular with Koreans of all ages, the facilities are on their way out as Koreans increasingly go home early thanks to the shorter working week, gather over a mellow cup of coffee or spend time with their families.
According to a report by the KB Financial Group on Sunday, the number of karaoke rooms in Korea peaked in 2011 with 35,316 and has been dwindling since. As of May this year, there were still 32,796, but while 295 new ones popped up between January and May, 675 shut down.
Korea's first karaoke room opened in 1991 near Donga University in Busan. Korea was quick to embrace the Japanese fad, and two years later their number had exploded to over 20,000 across. When regulations were eased in 1999 to admit teenagers until 10 p.m., another explosion followed, and over 8,000 opened that year alone.
That they are now on their way out seems mainly due to the waning culture of enforced office conviviality as well as the natural fatigue any fashion undergoes.
As the focus shifted from a work-centered lifestyle to work-life balance, people simply have better things to do and no longer feel compelled to humor the boss and his out-of-tune rendition of the same tired standards late at night.
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