Yoon replaces 6 ministers ahead of his 3rd year, general election
US deploys fighter jets in S. Korea for air exercise in Singapore
S. Korea's economy grows 0.6% in Q3, unchanged from earlier estimate
South Korea unveils plan to tackle ailing mental health
S. Korea successfully tests solid-fuel space rocket
Korea-themed hot spots in heart of Vietnam
From 'gosiwon' cafe to hanbok rental, Hallyu gives rise to new businessBy Choi Jae-hee
Published : Feb. 22, 2023 - 09:14
HANOI, Vietnam – In Hanoi’s hip Ho Tay Lake area, famous for its trendy restaurants and shops, stands an old-style Korean house with a large black tile roof, wooden pillars and stone walls.
Inside, timber tables and chairs, matching walls covered in Korean handmade paper from the bark of the mulberry tree -- hanji -- exudes a warm and inviting atmosphere.
Nestled in the hanok-style house, Ragacy is a cafe that specializes in Korean-style coffee and desserts.
“Here reminds me of guesthouses in Seoul’s Bukchon Hanok Village,” 27-year-old customer Linh Nguyen told The Korea Herald, recalling her trip to Korea a year prior.
As COVID-19 travel restrictions eased, there was a rush among travel-hungry Vietnamese to visit Korea, and Nguyen was among them. According to the Korea Tourism Organization data, the number of Vietnamese arrivals skyrocketed from 22,946 in 2021 to 185,061 last year.
“I’ve seen some social media influencers taking pictures and videos (at this cafe), clad in hanbok. I wish I could do that,” Nguyen said, referring to Korea's traditional dress.
Ragacy has become a must-visit location for Vietnamese fans of Hallyu wanting to get a taste of the country without flying.
Having opened in May 2021, the cafe has lured many locals and tourists despite the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to the booming popularity of Korean culture. It offers Korean-style beverages like mugwort blended ice drinks and cakes to meet demand among Vietnamese foodies yearning for Korean dessert recipes.
“There was one time when we served more than 600 Vietnamese customers a day. Many of them were really into taking photographs with the cafe as the backdrop,” said Paul Jeong, the Korean owner of the cafe.
Currently, almost 90 percent of the visitors to the store are Vietnamese customers interested in K-pop and Korean food, he explained.
“I honestly did not expect a hanok cafe to be this popular here. The Korean Wave had a great impact on my business. I also received positive feedback from Korean residents living nearby. They said the store evokes nostalgia.”
While Ragacy takes cues from a traditional Korean house, Kim Myung-ki’s place is themed after gosiwon, a dormitory-style single housing facility in South Korea primarily for those preparing for exams and low-income individuals.
Launched in November last year in Hanoi’s Cau Giay district, the cafe Gosiwon is a four-story building. Each floor has scores of cubicle rooms separated by curtains, not walls, where couples and friends can enjoy their tea while lying down in bed.
The owner said he was an ordinary office worker in Seoul five years ago. He saw business opportunities in the Southeast Asian country, particularly in line with Korean content’s continued popularity.
“Vietnamese people’s interest in the Korean language and culture far exceeds your expectations. The cafe’s interior design inspired by the gosiwon which has been featured in many Korean dramas and films has gained a lot of attention from young people here.”
On the afternoon of Feb. 10, almost all the partitioned spaces at the cafe were occupied, mostly by teenagers and those in their 20s. Some couples could be seen reading books, while others were working with laptops.
"I heard there are not that many indoor dating spots for young couples here. Many spend time together sitting on their motorcycles near the lakes and rivers around the city or going to franchise cafes. I wanted to provide open spaces which offer privacy and quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of the city," Kim said.
Just last week, a hanbok rental shop called Cung, which means palace in Korean, opened in Hoan Kiem, a tourist hot spot in Hanoi famous for endless rows of food vendors offering Vietnamese street food.
Located within 10 minutes' walking distance of Hoan Kiem Lake, the store presents a wide selection of hanbok available at 300,000 Vietnamese dong ($13) for a three-hour rental. The shop also has a collection of ao dai -- Vietnam's national costume -- for rent.
"Not only foreign tourists but also local people from other cities have visited our shop to take photographs near tourist attractions near Hoan Kiem Lake," said the shop's owner, surnamed Cho.
"There are some local visitors who already tried out Korean traditional clothing through hanbok rental shops in Seoul. As the COVID-19 situation is improving here, I think more Korean merchants here will come up with tourist businesses related to Korean culture to attract Vietnamese consumers," she added.
Korea unveils plan to tackle ailing mental health
[KH Explains] China ups OLED ante to take over Korean shares
6 outgoing ministers ‘strong candidates’ for general elections: ruling party