Laerke Andersen editor
As many may know - South Korea is a very technological society with impressive high-speed internet. During the COVID-19 outbreak, the internet usage has increased and has helped many cope with the pandemic. This isolated life has become normal for a lot of people since the lockdowns but for the Koreans, it’s been on its way since before the outbreak hit and there’s even a word for it. “Untact” has been a popular term in marketing in South Korea since 2017. The term describes doing things without any direct contact with others ex online shopping or self-service kiosks.
Talking about self-service kiosks - in Korea this can be seen various places and the concept has become very normal here. In fact, ordering via kiosks instead of staff at certain establishments has become more a common to do for consumers. This is very appreciated by those who wish to keep social interactions with people to a minimum. Let me introduce you to some of the kiosks that have been catching popularity all over Seoul.
Robot Café B;eat
When it opened in Seoul, it was the world’s first 5G robot café. A “robot barista" making your coffee seemed like it’d only exist in the far future. If you want a coffee without human assistance, you can go and give it a try at Lotte Mall in Seoul.
Self-service ice cream shop
Besides getting your coffee from a robot, you can buy ice cream at the nearest self-served shop. It’s fascinating to know that this type of business is possible in Korea with no security other than CCTV cameras. Other that having various ice cream options to choose from, they’re also cheap.
The pandemic also prompted the rise of “ontact" - or “online contact” in Korea. This refers to being face-to-face online, such as through video or virtual sales support. An extension of “untact” and “ontact” technology is the upward trend of using animated worlds and avatars in Korea music and fashion scenes. In late 2018, League of Legends announced its own digital K-pop girl group, K/DA - which consisted of four themed versions of game characters.
A few years ago, they held an opening ceremony in South Korea with K/DA featuring (G)-idle, Madison Beer and Jaira Burns with their catchy song: “POP/STARS”. This was a way of bringing the animated avatars “to life”. They’ve even dedicated an Instagram account to them as if they “a real” group. Other idols also have their own animated characters, such as the Zepeto version of Blackpink and Aespa-synk, the digital version of the K-pop group Aespa.
Laerke Andersen editor (Denmark)