November 26, 2022

A band performs on the “Rain Cocktail” truck at Songdo Central Park, Incheon. The truck additionally sells cocktails on the facet. (Courtesy of Premium Climate)

By Kim Bo-eun

Outdated vans promoting “tteokbokgi(rice desserts in spicy sauce)” have at all times been round, however trendier-looking meals vans have popped up lately within the metropolis’s nooks and crannies.

This follows an easing of laws final yr that enables vans to be renovated for meals enterprise.

However the laws state that these vans can solely function in designated areas akin to amusement parks.

Whereas the newest developments have prompted a possible increase for meals on wheels, limitations are pushing the vans into the shadows.

The low-cost, low-risk choice of beginning a meals enterprise appeals to younger folks, however apart from those that have nestled in authorized areas, many transfer round to keep away from being reported by neighboring restaurant house owners.

Many haven’t any web site or phone quantity; they solely let prospects know the place they are going to be day by day by means of social media.

Whereas it appears unlawful operations will at all times exist, companies say there are a number of essential elements that should be addressed.

Kimchi Bus

Kimchi Bus is likely one of the few meals vans working with little concern. It settled within the grounds of Widespread Floor, the transport container procuring advanced in jap Seoul when it opened in April.

Kimchi Bus customers eat its kimchi-infused Mexican dishes in front of the truck located insdie the Common Ground shopping complex in eastern Seoul. (Korea Times/Kim Bo-eun)

Kimchi Bus prospects eat its kimchi-infused Mexican dishes in entrance of the truck positioned insdie the Widespread Floor procuring advanced in jap Seoul. (Korea Occasions/Kim Bo-eun)

The truck sells kimchi-infused Mexican meals and is within the outside space of the advanced with three different vans.

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The vans are just about no totally different from common retailers, as their house owners signal a contract and pay hire – though the charges are a lot decrease and the operators don’t pay deposits and premiums.

The Kimchi Bus was additionally a part of a government-funded venture that noticed it journey some 80,000 kilometers spanning 34 cities the world over.

CEO Ryu Si-hyeong was in a position to see how meals vans in these locations operated. Based on Ryu, Korea might emulate the laws in such cities that state vans can not park in areas with heavy site visitors, that the spot must be inside a sure distance of restrooms and that the vans can not keep at one place for greater than an hour. In addition they require the vans to point out their hygiene rankings.

That is in distinction to Korea the place such tips are absent, inflicting issues.

“If they’re working illegally anyway, they’d really feel much less obliged to stick to hygiene requirements and this might presumably result in a deterioration of the meals truck enterprise right here,” Ryu mentioned.

He mentioned native authorities would wish to create a grid, marking locations the place vans might function and put it on-line so folks might register day by day.

Additionally, not like the unique function of giving folks the chance to begin companies with out some huge cash, Ryu mentioned it was seemingly conglomerates would transfer in and drive out smaller gamers.

The Juice Field

Close to the Nationwide Meeting subway station in Yeouido stands a truck that sells cold-pressed juice to health-conscious feminine workplace employees within the morning and lunch hours.

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Kim Ki-youl, one of many two house owners of The Juice Field, says the enterprise district of Yeouido has at all times had meals vans, most of which promote espresso. He estimates that there at the moment are some 20 meals vans within the space.

Kim and his accomplice, Min Jung-ki, seized on the demand for healthful juice amid the host of espresso retailers to ascertain the juice truck.

Kim and Min say one of many issues is the regulation that requires the vans to be one-ton autos.

“You can not equip a one-ton truck with the amenities you want (working water, electrical energy, and so on.),” Kim mentioned. “That is straight associated to the hygiene of the meals offered.”

“I feel the grounds for limiting the dimensions of the vans is to forestall giant autos from blocking roads, however I actually don’t assume they’d make a lot of a distinction,” Min mentioned

However the two agree that issues are enhancing.

“At first, the locations that native authorities designated as authorized areas had been actually dangerous,” Kim mentioned. “Now it’s introducing higher spots that folks would truly contemplate going.”

Nonetheless, he mentioned extra use ought to be manufactured from underutilized land.

“An evening market with dozens of meals vans might be created on a vacant piece of land so long as they don’t seem to be too laborious to get to,” Kim mentioned. “With promotion from native governments, it could be an enormous hit.”

Rain Cocktail

A truck camps out by Sundown Cafe at Songdo Central Park, Incheon, on Friday at 5 p.m. As folks unload tools, a guard comes over and begins occurring about why they shouldn’t be there – “What are you going to do in regards to the trash?” he says.

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The crew assures him they are going to maintain issues and the guard rides off on his bicycle.

“Complaints file in on a regular basis,” mentioned Choi Yu-jung, the truck’s advertising supervisor.

The crew of three represents Premium Climate, which brings the Rain Cocktail truck to the park each Friday night. The truck serves as a makeshift stage and beside it’s a small bar that sells cocktails.

After the solar units, folks begin flocking to the truck. Quickly, a guitar begins up and music is heard all through the realm. The viewers sits and enjoys the night time breeze and music, sipping cocktails.

Rain Cocktail began in 2013 as a truck serving drinks, however in current months has began inviting musicians to carry out on the truck.

CEO Kim Jin-seok says many younger folks at the moment are inquisitive about beginning a meals truck since laws had been eased final yr. The federal government can be taking measures to advertise the enterprise.

“The issue is that it makes issues look as if they’re all pink and roses however individuals who wish to begin face many actual limitations,” Kim mentioned.

All through the interview, Kim’s crew talked about the dearth of acceptable locations for vans to function.

Most vans exit to make cash at occasions, however they’re required to pay large charges in change for a spot.

Rain Cocktail lately paid 300,000 gained to participate in a competition at Yangyang, however returned with out recouping the charge.

“It’s irritating when you’re blocked from doing one thing when there’s an precise demand for and other people like what you supply,” Kim mentioned.

“It’s not nearly meals vans, younger folks in Korea face monumental limitations after they attempt to do one thing new.”