K-pop and Korean entertainment from Korean fans' perspective

Alberto Mondi's column on the difference between Italian and Korean cultures



Alberto Mondi

JTBC 'Abnormal Summit' panelist


Column: [Abnormal Eyes of Alberto Mondi] I want to see a 100-year-old cafe in Seoul


Before I switched to my current job, I used to work at a beer company for three years. I had visited hundreds of coffee shops, bars, restaurants, lounges, and clubs in Seoul. I quickly got used to working as a drink salesman and working with Koreans. But there was one thing that I could never get used to. It was a sudden disappearance of a shop I visited. To speak positively, it was Korean society's industrial dynamics different from Italy.

In Italy, people always go to the same shop so they can become friends with the owner and the workers like a family. When I go to the restaurant that I've always gone with my grandfather, I don't even look at the menu because the waiter knows my family's favorites and serves it right away. This is the life of Italians. The cake shop where my mom bought snack for me after attending the mass on Sundays, the sandwich shop I went after school when I was in middle school, the coffee shop I went to buy hot chocolate in the freezing winter in high school, the bar I drank as I was watching soccer with my college friends, these shops are still in my hometown, Venice. They always look the same and stay at the same places. They remind me of the old and happy memories.

The bars in my hometown had gone through some remodeling but most of them are older than 50 years. A lot of them are even older than 100 years. In Italy, there are some shops that were opened in the Middle Ages around the 13th century. After 800 years, they're still being functioned the same way. Those places are remaining the history so you can see how the country and the citizens have been living through.

For example, in Toscana, Pisa, there's a famous cafe 'Caffè dell'Ussero' which started to be running by Agostini family since 1775. The cafe has gone through 6 generations of the family. In Venice, a cafe 'Florian' was opened in 1720. At the cafe, famous writers and philosophers like Byron, Goethe, Rousseau, and Hemingway had drank coffee as they were writing about their urban lives in their literature work. Coffee shops, bars, and hotels have a long-term history of the people who had visited the places.

To the people who are from this culture, a disappearance of the cafe where they've been drinking coffee for years is very shocking. But while the same environment makes people comfortable, its flaw is that people will be afraid of making changes. As a salesman working in Korea, I want to tell Italian people, "don't be too settled and have new challenges." To Korean people, I'd say, "it would be great if there are efforts made to keep places with memories and histories to expand the charm of Korea."

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