Photo: Petition by karaoke booths plead against government-mandated shutdown, claiming karaoke booths are not high-risk facilities. Credit: the Blue Roof.
An excellent series on Kookmin Ilbo 국민일보 continues to trace the economic impact of the pandemic. The latest installment provides a visual map of all the small businesses in Seoul that have recently closed their doors. The pandemic is shortening the lifespan of small businesses: the median life of the businesses that shuttered between March and August was 1354 days (3.7 years), 172 days shorter than the businesses that shut down in the same period in 2019. Four out of ten such businesses did not survive past one year.
Even the most robust commercial areas were not safe. In the hip Hongdae 홍대 area, normally filled to the gills with tourists and young clubbers, businesses at the outer edge began failing in April. By August, even the shops along the busiest thoroughfare were closing. The same pattern holds in the ritzy Gangnam Station 강남역 area: by May, even the businesses just outside of the subway stations that normally see the most foot traffic were shutting down.