September 07, 2020 11:38
Young people are flocking to the river banks in Seoul to drink and socialize after a fresh lockdown of bars and restaurants.
At midnight on Sept. 4, the banks of the Dorim stream in Gwanak in southern Seoul were still thronging with people, around 250 people of whom were sitting on benches and steps of a 300-m stretch, drinking and chatting into the night.
Many had ordered pizza and other food to share with their friends. One man in his 30s who lives in Bongcheon-dong said, "We brought a bottle of soju from a shop and came out here because the restaurant where we had dinner closed at 9 p.m."
Another man who was part of a group of three approached three women who were sitting nearby and asked them to join them for a drink. The women obliged and moved over.
Around 40 people were queueing outside a convenience store at the Han River Park in Jamwon to buy snacks and drinks. The riverside park was teeming with night owls, some couples enjoying a movie on their laptops.
Over the weekend long lines stretched in front of a public toilet on the park in Yeouido. Other parts of the park were filled with people drinking alcohol. One 50-year-old resident who came out for a jog said, "This place wasn't this crowded even at the height of summer."
Others headed to budget hotels and motels to have a drink with their friends. One 29-year-old office worker rented a hotel room in Seodaeum in northwestern Seoul last week to have a drink with four coworkers. They went home at around 2 a.m. and none of them slept at the hotel. "I feel safer drinking in the hotel room, since I don't have to come into contact with strangers," he said.
Most large rooms in hotels and motels in Seoul were fully booked over the weekend. One staffer at a motel in Sincheon said, "Office workers who finished work came between 8 and 9 p.m. and left around 10 to 11 p.m."
But the chances of contracting coronavirus increase sharply where people gather. Lee Jae-gap at Hallym University Medical Center said, "Chances of contracting the virus are lower in outdoor places, but it's still dangerous to come into contact with strangers."
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