Ever since I arrived in South Korea, I noticed that people here are very tightly attached to picture-taking and memory-making. A ton of photo and selfie spots are available all over touristic areas! But what’s striking is the amount of photo booths that can be found in the streets. Let’s talk about it!
What are Korean photo booths like? How do they work?
A photo booth is an automated machine equipped with a camera. In South Korea, photo booths are often gathered into little 24/7 boutiques that can be found all over popular areas. Actually, they’re so visible that the quantity of photo booths in Korean streets is often mentioned when speaking about culture shocks! You can’t miss them as they have pictures plastered all over the front of them. Also, no need to master Korean as most photobooths can be used in English! Be careful to always carry cash because some of them don’t accept card payments.
Now, here is how it works… Usually, you’re able to dress up before taking your pics. Tons of fun props such as glasses, hair accessories or hats are free to put on! Different formats and filters are available depending on which photo booth you choose. The most popular -and often, default- format is the four-cut photo. This format looks a bit like a bookmark. Sometimes, photobooths offer themed frames based on certain events or brands. Once your selection is made, you only have 10 seconds to strike a pose between each picture… So be quick! Finally, you only have to wait for your photos to print. Most times, you’ll also get a QR code that, once scanned, gives you access to digital versions of your pictures.
Photobooths are normally quite inexpensive but can get pricey in extremely touristic areas, especially when you want to print multiple copies. They’re still by far the most fun way to capture memories during your trip!
Why are photo booths so popular in South Korea?
Photo booths are mostly popular among young people. The first reason might reside in how cheap they are. You can’t usually get professional-looking pictures for this price! It also has to do with the lasting and physical aspect digital pictures don’t have. This feels quite nostalgic, doesn’t it? It could be a way for South Korean youth to participate in an activity that contrasts with their daily lives. Ironically though, these physical pictures often end up getting posted on social media. When thinking about the importance Korea gives to appearance and self-image, photo booths seem to be a way for people to show themselves through the lens of a fun activity. Photo booths capture moments, individuality and good memories whether they’re made alone or with loved ones. They’re linked to a positive atmosphere that everyone would want to share!
Thank you for reading and see you next time! –Selen