When we first saw them building this coffee shop we were so excited because it meant there was finally somewhere local to go! If we want to go to a cafe we have to travel by bus for 20 minutes to Jinju. Not something we can do all the time.
There are technically two other cafes in this area, but one of them is dodgy and overpriced, and built next to a rubbish dump! It’s not really a coffee shop and doesn’t have that atmosphere. You have to go up stairs to the second level and apparently the owner does “face reading” (fortune telling by looking at someone’s face) as well. There is another cafe that is small but decent, however it’s still not the Korean coffee shop vibe that we like in cities.
So of course we had to explain what dabang coffee shops are. They are everywhere! No thought to design or atmosphere, it’s usually just old tables and chairs in rundown buildings. Not all, but a lot of them have varying levels of prostitution. They deliver coffee and only hire women, so the deal is that men who order coffee can also pay for something extra. The line of what is prostitution in Korea is so blurry. Things vary from women being paid to talk to men while serving them to of course all the way through to selling their bodies. Some dabangs have rooms upstairs for that. That’s why it’s mostly old men at these places. Prostitution in Korea is everywhere but everyone turns a blind eye. So you can see why we don’t ever go to those types of coffee places.
Those that watched the drama Modern Farmer might remember a scene where the woman opens a Ediya coffee shop in town. Ediya being a big proper coffee shop brand, but two men come in and one grabs her, insinuating that he wanted more from her. Completely disgusting and unacceptable behaviour in a real coffee shop (or anywhere in my personal opinion), but not completely unrealistic if you know what it’s like in countryside areas.
This new real coffee shop is such a good thing here! There is such a community vibe to it and it’s been wonderful to see that many older women have somewhere to go and talk. The prices are half what city prices are but it has free wifi and all the stuff you expect from city cafes in Korea (wonder if I can get them to add chai latte to the menu though).
Something that is sad about living in the Korean countryside is that a lot of places are dying. Our village certainly is. Young people have all moved away. But Wonji, the town next to us is actually growing. It’s a beautiful location, apartment prices are cheap, so young families are moving there to live. This coffee shop opening is a symbol of life coming back to this area.
Living in the countryside definitely makes me appreciate the small things in life.
Also, the coffee shop is run by someone in the Gwon family, so a distant relative of ours. Hugh complained that he wanted a discount but I think if the coffee shop gives out discounts for all Gwons they would have to give discounts to pretty much everyone here… many many Gwons in this area.