To lure young consumers and their families to spend money for that special day, local department stores are promoting various events.
Lotte Department Store is offering a 10 percent discount through Monday on casual brands including Calvin Klein, Guess and Buckaroo. The retailer is also giving away high-end portable speakers to customers turning 20 years old this year who spend more than 200,000 won ($176).
Shinsegae Department Store is offering discounts on casual brands including Gap and Banana Republic, as well as on jewelry and shoe brands, while Hyundai Department Store will mark down its cosmetics brands and young casual wear.
The article closes by saying that May is "is considered one of the most important months of the year for retailers to raise sales" because it's "Family Month," with Parents' and Childrens' Day at the beginning of the month. Then again, there are plenty of other holidays in South Korea newly imported or fabricated to not only increase sales of specialty products---Wine Day, Ace Day, Peppero Day, Garaetteok Day, Christmas---but also to provide much-needed fun and consumerism to traditional Korean holidays that are dominated by obligations, traffic jams, days of cooking, and dead people.
Another traditional gift on Coming-of-Age Day is a kiss, but the Chosun Ilbo writes that some couples are, unsurprisingly, a little beyond that.
Many who turn 20 this year go to motels for their own "coming-of-age" rituals. Ten out of 28 motels in Sinchon, Jongno and Gangnam were full on Monday and the rest saw the number of guests shoot up by at least 50 percent. One female university student who visited a motel near Ewha Womans University at 9:30 pm on Monday said, "Everyone comes to these places these days. Some of my other friends even booked a hotel room."
Korean-language version here, and a 2008 article on the same topic asks "성년의 날이야 '성(性)'의 날이야?"
The former quotes a guy saying he got a job at a convenience store the month before in order to earn money toward a special Coming-of-Age Day for his girlfriend. It also reports an increase in sales of underwear and adult items. A survey of 1,000 17-19-year-olds by Lotte Department Store this year found that underwear was the second-most wanted gift, behind a kiss and ahead of perfume. Here's a sample of what one online shopping site, G-Market, is selling as 성년의날 선물. I was amused to find, when searching for the Korean-language story by Navering 성년의날 모텔, the portal offered three variations of "성년의날 남자 선물" as suggested search terms.
The English-language Chosun Ilbo article is, obviously, very unspecific, and ignores that on any given Monday ten out of 28 motels in Sinchon, Jongno, and Gangnam are likely to be full. Likewise, when the student quoted says "everyone comes to these places these days," we don't know if she means on a regular basis, or for couples holidays and Coming-of-Age Days.
I've written a lot about love motels, as my "motels and hotels" category shows, most recently and most publically for the Korea Herald last fall. While love motels do still carry a stigma---enough that a foreigner writing about them in the Gwangju News last year got chewed out in a local paper---and would probably not be the best surprise present for your girlfriend, people are slowly starting to realize how awesome they are. I highlighted some examples in that Herald piece and the accompanying post, and used as support a Yonhap article from August 2009 which looked at the amenities the nicer ones are starting to offer.
But in the face of a steep increase in competition, motel owners are transforming their guest rooms into private entertainment complexes, renovating once spartan furnishings into lavish accommodations.
Couples can now find rooms in some of the country's leading motels equipped with a swimming pool, a sauna or jacuzzi, and flat-screen displays. Popular game consoles like Play Station or Wii, as well as karaoke machines, multiple PCs and a tastefully decorated bed are all part of the package.
"Lodging facilities used to be just for sleep or sex," said Lee Kyung-su, head manager at Seoul Mate Hotel. "But these days, such limitations don't make money."
. . .
"Motels used to be a place I go at night, have sex, and wake up in the morning," said an 28-year-old office worker who identified himself only by his last name Lee. "But now I go there also during the daytime with my girlfriend watching movies, playing games, or just lying in bed together listening to music."
A 2007 article talks about hotels offering "Pink Light Events" to mark Coming-of-Age Day and Couple's Day---부부의날, which I learned just now falls on May 21st---and talks about the amenities that make luxury motels attractive on days special and regular.