It is hardly the most striking foreigner with the feature of the life of Seoul (as, however, and any other Korean city or village) is an amazing abundance of restaurants, canteens, snacks of the most different profile, for every taste and wallet. Both in the city center, and on its outskirts, a variety of catering institutions come across literally every few tens of meters, and in some places – and more. You can eat in Seoul not only everywhere, but also, for many dining rooms (it is tablet, and not expensive restaurants) work all night.
The modern Korean citizen is often in restaurants, dining rooms, snack bars, these visits have become part of his daily life. This is especially true to employees who are almost short-range forced to dinner (and often – and dinner) outside the house. Public food availability contributes primarily its relative cheapness. The price of a sufficiently satisfying lunch does not exceed 6 thousand out ($ 5) per person, and you can eat modestly for 4 thousand won ($ 3). If we consider that the average salary in Korea is now exceeding one and a half million per month, it is clear that such sums most of the Koreans do not seem so big. One of the features of Korea is that the difference in price between dining at home and food in restaurants is relatively small. In addition, the institutions of the Korean catering in the old tradition are the usual venue of business conversations, meetings, banquets. Collective visits to restaurants or beer after work, all departments or the entire brigade – this is also a characteristic feature of the modern Korean city life.
At the same time, talking to foreigners, for a long time living in Korea (mostly these are Americans), then it is necessary to hear complaints about some monotony, which, they say, is characteristic of Korean catering. No matter how paradoxically, these complaints are partly justified. Americans are accustomed to the fact that in their native country, literally at every corner you can see a restaurant for some national cuisine, often quite exotic. In Korea, despite the striking abundance of restaurants and cafes, only four national cuisine are presented in essence: the Korean, Chinese, Japanese and European (under which a certain averaged version is understood, which has become the result of the interaction of American cuisine with a Japanese version of German). Of course, if you wish in Korea, you can find both Thai, Indian, and Vietnamese restaurant, but such institutions, firstly, are few, and secondly, roads. More than 99% of the Korean catering institutions belongs to the four above categories. In 1994, there were 29 in the Korean capital.218 Korean, 4.074 Chinese, 2.637 Japanese and 7.629 "Western" restaurants.
The last two decades have become the time of the rapid development of the catering industry. Before that, it was practically absent, because about 1980. Only a few Koreans could afford a trip to the restaurant. First, it was too expensive, absolutely not affordably by the overwhelming majority of workers and employees. Secondly, the tradition prescribed a solid man to dine at home. Finally, even the largest Korean cities were still small and most people lived relatively not far from the place of their work, so they could just go home for a lunch break. Those who could not afford such luxury, just took food with them.
From the end of the seventies, however, the public catering in Korea has entered the era of the boom, which has not ended and so. Koreans (must be said, big lovers delicious eat) got the opportunity to spend their significantly grew incomes more freely, and among the spending that they began to do in that epoch, the cost of restaurants occupied not last. As a result, the sales volume of Korean catering for 1982-1993. Rose from 2.616.000 million. Vaughn to 12.500.000 million. Won, that is, about five times (in real terms, taking into account inflation – two and a half times).
Visiting a restaurant – an important part of Korean life. According to Russian standards, Koreans invite each other home quite rarely. Therefore, it is restaurants – a common place for conversations in an unofficial setting. It is in the restaurant, most likely, a business partner will be invited, it is there that the new joint project will be discussed and the network of next institutional intrigue. It should be noted that the four main types of Korean restaurants differ not only to what food is served in them. Different types of restaurants visit different people in different reasons.
Japanese restaurants – the most expensive and most prestigious. They are visited mainly by representatives of the elite and, as a rule, serve as a place of business meetings and dinners. Therefore, the Japanese restaurants are not located in residential areas, not on the outskirts, but where the main institutions and large firms are concentrated. Periodically in the Korean press, especially in nationalist, and, consequently, AntsApponsky publications appear in extensions to the address so common among the Korean elite habits attend Japanese restaurants. However, these inventives remain unsuccessful. In Japanese restaurants, visitors walk in not only to enjoy exotic, high-quality and expensive cuisine, but also in order to show others that such pleasure is available to them.
Chinese restaurants – this is a place where people are held by the rank of lower, sometimes go there and just eat anything too, on Korean taste, exotic, but relatively cheap. The European restaurant is a place where a middle-weight person goes when he wants to eat something more unusual. This, in addition, quite respectable place for business and, especially, love dates (a suitable atmosphere – music, twilight, and associations with Western movies, in which love dates occur in such places). Korean restaurants, as easy to guess – the most universal view of catering institutions. Most of them are, first of all, the place where they eat, hunger quench.
By virtue of mine "Cultural labeling" Restaurants Basic Four Types – Korean, Chinese, European and Japanese – unevenly distributed over Seoul. Depending on who lives or works in this area, the composition of restaurants there can be significantly changed. So, in the outskirts "Sleeps" areas built up mostly expensive "Apartments", where representatives are mostly medium and partially, the highest layers of Korean society, practical lack of Korean and European restaurants, little Japanese, but often come across Chinese. This is explained by the fact that Korean and European (T. E. "European" In Korean understanding), the hostess can be easily prepared at home or from semi-finished products. The Japanese restaurant is suitable, rather, for business lunch or dinner and, because of this, he is also not a place in a residential area. Chinese cuisine is very complex in "technological" Plan, it is not so easy to reproduce the house, but at the same time, it is cheaper enough for going to the Chinese restaurant to become a view of a holiday available for the Korean family of middle wealth. Poor trade craft areas Seoul and other cities are marked by many Korean restaurants with almost the absence of Japanese and small quantities of Chinese and European. This is due to the fact that most of the poor Koreans are not too complaining "overseas" Food preferring to her more familiar and, in general, noticeably cheaper Korean dishes.
In business relations, the invitation to the restaurant as a whole is equal to a gift, and in some cases it can even serve as a disguised form of bribe. It is not by chance that the Korean government during the next campaign against corruption is trying to prohibit officials to walk on restaurants with their customers (especially from the number of businessmen). Joint visits to restaurants with colleagues or business partners – the phenomenon is almost ritual, without such visits, successful negotiations on what kind of question are generally impossible. The question of who will pay for lunch or dinner in the restaurant often becomes an object of interpirations, during which both parties seek this certificate of honor. Partly, these compilations are talked, but often they are fully sincere. It’s not uncommon to see the scene when two solid elderly Koreans in expensive costumes are seriously pushed near the cashier’s rack (in Korean restaurants she is always at the exit), arguing to whom it should pay for the newly eaten lunch (both participants are achieved for this honor for myself). Western habit to share costs more or less proportionally between all participants of the feast in Korea is missing perfect. In general, it is understood that the catering will pay the invited (the circumstance that puts in a dead end of prudent immigrants from the West). In the same cases, when invitations explicitly did not have, expenses, as a rule, takes over the older in age and the Regulations participant of the feast, for which it is as if a certificate duty. As the current Western feminist hysteria has not yet reached Korea, it is also implied that in the case of a joint visit to a restaurant or cafe for a woman, a man should pay.