In South Korea, Olympics affect everything from food to housing to sex
Gangneung residents hope boom in hotels, restaurants and new apartments will become permanent
Hong Yun-Hee, 45, ushers an American into the chair and fires up her clippers. She says she's just about breaking even cutting the hair of the Olympic visitors flooding the city of Gangneung, site of the Olympic Park that will host hockey, curling and speed skating.
But the real payday, she hopes, will be after the Games. A new and permanent neighbourhood is springing up in the area around the recently constructed Olympic media village. That's why last March she left her job and built a salon of her own.
"When I first came here, I was the only business in this new part of town, and I was worried," she says. "But there are more than three or four big apartment towns that were built here, so even after the Olympics there'll be people coming to live here. I see lots of development and opportunities."
Gangneung, a city of about 200,000 people less than 200 km east of the capital Seoul, is mix of the old — bustling markets selling stingrays and live eels — and the very, very new. There is construction all over the city.
The reason for the relatively sudden boom is the high-speed train called the KTX. A new route built in time for the Olympics means Gangneung is now only a 90-minute ride from Seoul.
"I'm sure the population will go up in the city after the Olympics because of this train," he says.
"When you rent an apartment, you used to just pay one price, but now they charge you per person," she says.
Jeong jin-wook walks hand-in-hand with his girlfriend toward the movie theatre. Because many young adults still live with their families, they can't "end" their dates at home.
So-called "love hotels," often brightly decorated with hearts or tacky neon signs, are usually fairly inexpensive: around $30 for three hours. But with the Olympics in town, Jeong says, some prices have more than doubled.
"When couples want to meet and have a date, we now have to think twice about whether we're going to stay the night," he says.
So many restaurants in the city have jacked up their prices, officials actually gave awards to restaurants that kept their prices down. She gestures proudly to a sticker pasted onto her front door.
"Some people here are happy because there will be a lot of foreigners who are coming," she says. "There's lots of new buildings but the Olympics don't affect me at all."
She's been selling her chive pancakes for $3 apiece in this tiny, six-seat restaurant long before the Games came to Gangneung. And, she says, her pancakes will still be here long after the Olympic torch is out.