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Seoul Music

November / December 2008

Over the past few years, the night club / disco / dance club industry has changed considerably.

All over the world, club operators have realized that many customers want more than just a disco or dance club - resulting in multi-purpose venues where a dance space with requisite DJ, audio and lighting technology, is just one facet of what they have to offer. South Korea is no exception, albeit with its own particular idiosyncrasies. Yoon Dae-In, CEO of ArtTech Lighting Co.Ltd and Robe Lighting’s exclusive distributor in Korea, revealed some of the most interesting.

Beginning in July 2004, a five-day work week was introduced in South Korea. Previously most Koreans had been working six days a week and those who often went to clubs would invariably spend all day Sunday sleeping. Having an extra day off each week would, one might assume, be a boon to the nightlife entertainment industry, but conversely this was not the case. Suddenly Korean businessmen, the big spending patrons at clubs, realized they had much more time to spend with their families, on sporty leisure activities, weekend camping trips and short tours around the country. It wasn’t long before the once thriving clubbing scene was decimated and many members clubs were shut down. South Korea’s recent Olympic performance may be testament to these healthier, sporting lifestyles. Among Asian countries, their medal tally was the highest per capita, indeed rivaling that of the UK.

Repositioning themselves for the new situation, clubs with sporty healthy themes such as Banyan Club and Spa, and Marina Jefe have met with resounding success. Neither of these venues can be categorised as discos or dance clubs but they do have worthy facilities to provide such entertainment.

There are other peculiarities for Korean clubs. As opposed to most countries around the world, there are no restrictions on opening hours and clubs can stay open as long as they want. In addition, Koreans prefer en masse seating instead of standing around. Prime examples of this are at Club Spot and Super Dom. As well as all that, according to one source, Koreans are traditionally shy at making direct approaches, so potentially ‘romantic’ introductions are made by club staff.
Some things in Korea haven’t changed since mondo*dr visited Seoul over 10 years ago. The Hongik University area is still the place to party for hip young clubbers. and a very significant percentage of DJs still become deaf as an occupational hazard. Hopefully exposure to Funktion-One systems will remedy this for the next crop of DJs.

(Words & Pics: Jimmie Wing)





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