Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 24 November 2020

Boom at South Korea's drive-in cinemas amid coronavirus fears

People who want to enjoy some culture this weekend can still go to watch films from the safety of their cars

A long queue of cars forms in front of a drive-in cinema in Seoul, as South Koreans look for safer spaces to enjoy a movie without the risk of contracting the coronavirus spreading across the world.

Box office numbers in South Korea, which has reported more than 8,500 cases of the virus, have plummeted in recent weeks due to the pandemic, with authorities urging the public to avoid large crowds.

Park Ji-seung refrained from going outside due to the coronavirus outbreak, but said he felt 'safe' at the drive-in cinema

But at Park Dong-ju's drive-in cinema, moviegoers can enjoy a film from the comfort of their cars, parked in front of a large outdoor screen.

"We've had a 10 to 20 per cent 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."

A website for his drive-in cinema has a large banner that reads: "Open throughout the year". That is a stark contrast to theatres elsewhere in the world that were forced to suspend business over virus fears.

Hospital worker Choi Jin-young, 22, said she had to wait two hours for tickets at the cinema and was worried it might sell out for the weekend.

A couple enjoy a screening at a drive-through cinema in Seoul. AFP 
A couple look at a mobile phone as they sit in a car at a screening at a drive-through cinema in Seoul. AFP

"I wanted to enjoy life with my partner," she said. "But since cinemas are dangerous and worrying to go to, I looked for a special date and that's how we came here."

Park Ji-seung, 24, refrained from going outside because of the outbreak, but said 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.

Scores of events, from K-pop concerts to football matches, have been cancelled or postponed because of the virus.

Updated: March 22, 2020 10:21 PM

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