Shop owners shrug off lost sales
By Yun Suh-young
Owners of restaurants around COEX, the venue for the Nuclear Security Summit, were not so busy due to tighter security but most were willing to accept the temporary losses for the ultimate success of the summit.
With the flow of people drastically cut by road blocks around the COEX, the restaurants in the mall had fewer customers during the two-day gathering that ended Tuesday.
An owner of a sandwich and coffee shop across the street said there was a drop in customers, but he wanted the summit to be a success.
“Our sales did fall by 20 to 30 percent. It’s because fewer people could stroll the streets freely. Usually, office workers bring their clients here and chat over coffee but since visitors were restricted, we had fewer customers. I guess the office workers themselves felt they shouldn’t walk around on the streets,” said Kim Yoo-chul, the owner of Deli News.
“I do feel burdened by the drop in sales. But since it’s an honor for Korea to be holding this event, I hope the summit will end in a favorable outcome,” he said.
Others seemed undaunted by the restrictions.
Oh Eun-kyung, manager of a Japanese restaurant “Kisoya” said, “Although sales did drop by a little bit, I don’t think it’s a big blow to our business. Maybe our management may think so but we just needed to bear it for two days. Everything will return to normal from tomorrow.”
A manager from “Aoune Budaejigae,” a Korean restaurant selling spicy sausage stew, said her restaurant didn’t suffer any losses.
“There’s not much difference in our sales yesterday compared to ordinary days. We did have fewer dinner customers yesterday but since we’re a casual Korean food restaurant, police officers came to eat at our place. Thanks to them, we retained our usual number of customers,” she said.
But some restaurant owners were not happy with the tight road restrictions.
“Our sales dropped by 70 percent. We usually earn 1 million won per day but we only earned 300,000 won yesterday. We had much fewer customers,” said an employee at Bongchon Sundaeguk, a Korean restaurant selling hot beef stock soup.
“Most of our sales come from selling drinks, but since office workers avoided coming to this area, we suffered a heavy blow. Police come but they only eat a meal because they can’t drink while on duty,” she said. “We usually go home at 2 a.m. but we closed early yesterday at 10 p.m. I think the government should compensate us for our loss.”
Pedestrian traffic in the neighborhood dropped significantly because of the summit. Hardly any regular citizens were spotted on the streets near the COEX except for police on patrol.
During the two days the summit was being held, the area around the COEX was completely blocked off and only those with authorized identification cards were allowed entry.