Have you ever read the book Uncomfortable Convenience Store? Released in 2021, more than a year later it has exceeded 400,000 cumulative sales and was named the most loved novel of 2022. In addition, it was the number one overall best seller in all bookstores and the rights have been exported to six countries overseas, where it is constantly gaining popularity. The book is written in an omnibus format, with each chapter giving a glimpse into the life stories of each of the characters. This allows readers to read it in an interesting way, as they can see the hidden stories of people related to convenience stores, such as Mrs. Yeom, the owner of a convenience store located in Cheongpa-dong, and Sihyeon, an existing part-time student. Each of them bears the weight of a realistic, personal life, and goes to a convenience store where they interact with Dokgo, a mysterious part-time student. In the process, we can feel comforted and moved by their healing in their own ways. In this article, I will try to explain, through a reader's perspective, not only why the title is Uncomfortable Convenience Store, but also what kind of comfort the convenience store can provide through interactions with the character Dokgo.
New night part-time student Dokgo
Mrs. Yeom, a convenience store owner, hires Dokgo as a night worker after finding her lost wallet at Seoul Station. She doesn't know his exact name or what he was doing, but overnight Dokgo protects the convenience store. He stutters and doesn't know anything about convenience store work, which causes Sunsook and Sihyeon, the existing workers, to knit their brows, along with the customers. A part-time homeless student who has to tell all things is a troublesome in many ways. For a while, it becomes an 'uncomfortable convenience store' for everyone. After a week of apprenticeship, Dokgo is finally able to serve guests on his own. Sihyeon also opens her mind to Dokgo's efforts and they become friends. One day, Dokgo suggests that Sihyeon take a simple video and upload it on YouTube to educate those who start working part-time at convenience stores, just as he educated her. As Dokgo says, Sihyeon starts a YouTube channel and becomes popular with many people for her minimalist and small operation. Seeing this, a convenience store official scouts Sihyeon for a job as a manager at a newly opened convenience store, and she quits the civil service exam she is preparing for. When Dokgo takes a place in the convenience store, Sihyeon's life changes in an instant, and I think this is the first time that Dokgo's arrival changes the lives of many people.
Seon-sook, her son and Dok-go
Seon-sook, who lives alone with her son, is a morning shift worker. She thinks that there are so many uncomfortable things in the store, but she is persevering and continues on. She is also annoyed by the existence of a homeless man and jealous that people help and even like him. But Seon-sook's biggest headache is his son. His son, who graduated from a prestigious university and worked for a major company, suddenly decides to go a different path, such as making movies and buying stocks. Now, under the pretext of preparing for the Foreign Affairs Examination, he only plays games all day at home, and it’s been a while that he cut off conversation with Seon-sook. One day, after an argument with his son, she leaves for work in the morning as usual. As soon as Seon-sook sees Dok-go's face, she bursts into tears with sorrow. When Dokgo sees her, he listens silently to her. Feeling grateful to Dok-go for listening to her story, Seon-sook sincerely says to him that she appreciates that. Then, he suggests the she try to listen to her son's story as he did her. He tells her to deliver the letter and the triangle kimbap to her son, helping to repair the relationship between Sun-sook and her son. The moment Dok-go gives her a solution, she feels the worries in her head disappear, and she thinks of the contents of the letter to write for her son. This makes Seon-sook one step closer to improvement relationship with her son. Not only Seon-sook, but also Kyung-man, and the writer In-kyung learn empathy, comfort, and understanding while talking with Dok-go.
It is short story, but I examined from my point of view why it became an uncomfortable convenience store, what kind of human emotions came and went through Dok-go in that store. In addition to the episodes mentioned above, if you read the book, you can see that the interaction between Dok-go, and the customers evoke warm feelings of comfort and empathy. Towards the latter part of the book, you might have questions about Dok-go's past and identity. But those are revealed in the very last chapter of the book.
We are all living with realistic concerns. In this book, too, we can see that each character has his or her own thoughts, stories, and concerns. Nevertheless, they find the strength to carry on with their daily lives with minor comfort, enlightenment, and emotion at the convenience store. If you read all episodes, you can realize that this book emphasizes the importance, warmth of family until the very end. I hope that many students take this opportunity to read this book and interpret it from own perspective.< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >