By Kim Tae-gyu, Park Si-soo
Is sex correlated with World Cup football? For naysayers, here is an interesting statistic.
On the Saturday night of Korea's convincing victory over Greece in their opening match of the 2010 South Africa World Cup, convenience stores recorded a jump in condom sales.
It may be thanks largely to the raging hormones of hundreds of thousands of young people braving the rain in rooting for their team outdoors across the nation. Perhaps, it may need two more victories from Korea to see a firm correlation between the two.
GS25, a convenience store subsidiary of GS Group, said Monday that its outlets had sold about 5,000 condoms on Saturday, a five-fold increase from four years ago during the Germany World Cup.
"Instant noodles and bottled water sold like hot cakes at our stores thanks in large part to the soccer game. Revenues from umbrellas and raincoats soared as folks braved the weather to cheer in the streets," a GS25 official said.
"Plus, condoms sold briskly Saturday night. The figures are extraordinarily high even compared to those during other major sports events including the 2006 World Cup."
Investors also have noticed the rising condom demand through the share prices of Unidus, the country's foremost manufacturer.
The Seoul-based outfit's stock price closed at 1,205 won per share on May 25 but it shot up to over 1,400 won last week in the lead up to the 2010 World Cup.
The equity prices further appreciated after the much-hyped triumph against the Greek squad over the weekend to move in the neighborhood of 1,500 won Monday.
The strong sales of the contraceptives are not specific to Korea - they have been ubiquitously witnessed across the world during international sports competitions.
The South African government reportedly wants to stockpile 1 billion condoms to meet the needs during the World Cup and some of its politicians purportedly asked other countries to provide them.
In fact, it is a time-honored belief that the demand for contraceptives tends to jump during global sporting events such as the World Cup or Olympics as well as during economic downturn.
Experts explain that the rabid support shown during the World Cup or Olympic games might have something to do with the rising demand for contraceptives.
"When folks are excited, their sympathetic nerves are stimulated. When they relax afterward their parasympathetic nerves are aroused," said Park Jung-soo, a neurologist at Hanyang University
"The switches are similar to the mechanisms of male ejaculation. Watchers of intriguing sports games feel such switches several times over the course of the games. At the end of the day, they may be susceptible to sexual arousal."
The rationale for recessions: Cash strapped people do not want to shoulder financial burdens by having a child. One of the easiest ways is to use contraceptives.
But the hypothesis for the economic slumps has yet to be proven in order to win the consensus of the general public, in particular in Korea.
Unidus said that it did not see any major change for condom demand during the global financial crisis, which hit the global economy in late 2008 and early 2009.
"I don't know why so many people buy the idea that condoms sell more during tough times. The experience tells us that they sell very steadily without regard to the economic situation," a Unidus official said.
월드컵 경기 승리와 섹스 상관관계?
월드컵과 섹스는 상관관계가 있을까? 아니라고 하는 사람들에게는 흥미로운 통계자료가 있다.
토요일 한국이 그리스를 이기면서 그날 밤 콘돔의 판매량은 급증했다. 어린 붉은 악마들이 비 오는 날 응원하면서 승리에 도취해 그런 것 같지만 아마 이 상관관계를 정확히 파악하기 위해선 두 개의 게임을 더 봐야겠다.
GS 25시에 따르면 토요일 콘돔의 판매량은 5,000개 정도 팔았다. 이는 4년 전 독일 월드컵 때 보다 5배 이상 많은 수치 이다.
서울에 본사가 있는 이 콘돔 메이커인 유니더스의 주가는 그리스전을 승리하면서 올라갔고 남아공 정부도 10억 개의 콘돔을 요구했다. 전문가들은 올림픽이나 월드컵 같은 세계적인 축제와 피임약의 수요는 상관관계가 있다고 봤다.