Wednesday, December 7, 2011

You bet

There was an article about lotteries in Korea in Tuesday's Korea JoongAng Daily*.
What struck me was not the boom in bets, a classic in times of crisis, but the picture illustrating the article: I've known this store in Sanggye-dong for 15 years.

It used to be a small convenience store at the Southeastern corner of Sanggye Jugong Apt 10 Danji, between Madeul and Nowon stations, at the intersection of Dong-ro (the vertical backbone East of Jungnangcheon, along subway Line 7) and Nowon-gil / Banghwa-ro. That's a major crossroads surrounded by densely populated appartment blocks (clockwise: Jugong 7, 9, 10, and a medium-sized Daelim complex), but a rather quiet place because of the local urban development model. Like Jamsil, Nowon has been redevelopped during the eighties following a basic scheme: tombstone buildings lined up along a wide highway, with shopping areas concentrated near subway stations, except for small peripheral clusters like this one.

This store also happened to sell Lotto tickets, and one day, one customer won the national grand prize. Then it happened again, and I remember how people started talking about it. The place soon gained a reputation of lucky charm, drawing players from all over the country like a magnet. And a genuine big win epidepic followed, feeding the buzz. Last time I passed by they had already claimed a dozen or so grand prize, including two almost in a row.

Over the past decade, the place has radically changed: most of the space is now reserved for lotto players, who can write down their hopefully winning combos on large tables. Non-lotto sections, reduced to the minimum, propose mostly snacks and side dishes for players.

I don't know how many gazillion wons are spent every week on tickets in this mecca of Korean lotto, but probably too much for such a not so affluent area.

Seoul Village 2011
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* "
As economy dips, Koreans say 'You never know'" (Korea JoongAng Daily 2011106)

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