A long line of vehicles formed in front of a drive-in cinema in Seoul as South Koreans looked for safer spaces to enjoy a movie without the risk of contracting COVID-19 raging across the world.
Box office numbers in South Korea — which has 8,897 confirmed virus cases — have plummeted in the past few weeks due to the pandemic, with authorities urging the public to avoid large crowds.
However, at Park Dong-ju’s drive-in cinema, moviegoers can enjoy a film from the comfort of their vehicles, parked in front of a large outdoor screen.
“We’ve had a 10-20 percent increase in sales for weekdays and sell out on weekends,” Park said.
“We’re definitely getting many more calls and Internet inquiries after the coronavirus outbreak,” he added.
A Web site for his drive-in cinema shows a large banner that reads: “Open throughout the year,” a stark contrast to some theaters worldwide forced to suspend business over virus fears.
Choi Jin-young, a 22-year-old hospital worker, said that she had to wait two hours for tickets and was worried that it might sell out for the weekend.
“I wanted to enjoy culture life with my boyfriend, but since cinemas are dangerous and worrying to go, I looked for a special date and that’s how we came here,” she said.
Park Ji-seung, 24, said he refrained from going outside due to the outbreak, but added that he felt “safe” at the drive-in cinema.
South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun urged religious, indoor sports and entertainment facilities to suspend operations for 15 days, asking the public to work from home and not go outside.
Scores of events — from K-pop concerts to sports matches — have been canceled or postponed over the contagion.
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