South Korea drive-in cinemas enjoy sales boom over virus fears
A long queue of cars forms in front of a drive-in cinema in Seoul, as South Koreans look for safer spaces to enjoy a movie without the risk of contracting the coronavirus raging across the world.
Box office numbers in South Korea -- which has 8,897 confirmed virus cases -- have plummeted in recent weeks due to the epidemic, with authorities urging the public to avoid large crowds.
But at Park Dong-ju's drive-in cinema, moviegoers can enjoy a film from the comfort of their cars, parked in front of a large outdoor screen.
We've had a 10-20 percent increase in sales for weekdays, and sell out on weekends, Park said, adding: We're definitely getting many more calls and internet inquiries after the coronavirus outbreak.
A website for his drive-in cinema shows a large banner that reads, Open throughout the year, a stark contrast to some theatres worldwide forced to suspend business over virus fears.
Choi Jin-young, a 22-year-old hospital worker, said she had to wait two hours for tickets and was worried that it might sell out for the weekend.
I wanted to enjoy culture life with my boyfriend but since cinemas are dangerous and worrying to go, I looked for a special date and that's how we came here, she said.
Park Ji-seung, 24, said he refrained from going outside due to the coronavirus outbreak, but added he felt safe at the drive-in cinema.
South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun urged religious, indoor sports and entertainment facilities to suspend operations for 15 days, asking the public to work from home and refrain from going outside.
Scores of events -- from K-pop concerts to sports matches -- have been cancelled or postponed over the contagion.
(2020/03/24 13:18)Click Here for Japanese Translation
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