The situation is similar for the officetel in the next block (except where I have a FamilyMart convenience store, they have a GS25). If I walk west from the main road (east is E-Mart), down the side streets, I encounter hofs, fish restaurants, octopus, pork, beef and on and on. Even pizza.
And they're very reasonable--today, Mr Hwang and I met up for lunch after the Youngil marathon and stuffed ourselves on shabu shabu for W15,000 (including beer). He pointed out that Koreans love hot pot year-round, especially when they're drinking--they think a warm belly makes the alcohol healthier. Determining the logic of this view is left as an exercise for the reader.
It's so inexpensive to eat out, I understand why Korean kitchens are so small. Still, meals are intended for couples or groups, so I cook dinner for just myself pretty regularly.
Anyway, if you were wondering if I had some other-than-anecdotal basis for my contention that Seoul is restaurant-um-intensive, here's part of an article from Donga-A Ilbo on the subject, titled "Korea`s Restaurant-to-People Ratio Far Higher Than in U.S.":
Competition among small businesses is fiercer in Korea, but low specialization and efficiency could shake up the industry, experts warned. A Bank of Korea report released yesterday said Korea has 12.2 restaurants per 1,000 people, 6.8 times higher than the United States (1.8) and 2.1 times higher than Japan’s 5.7).
In addition, Korea has 12.7 retailers per 1,000 people, 3.9 times higher than the United States (3.2) and 1.4 times higher than Japan (8.9). The number of motels and hotels in Korea per 1,000 people is 0.9, more than the United States (0.2) and Japan (0.5).
Surely, a shake-up is due--hell, this rapidly-changing country has a shake-up per week--but there will still be a high ratio of retailers to people, since many people don't own cars, or are loathe to use them in the crazy traffic here (Yogi Berra quote, anyone?) So they would rather walk a block down the street and spend a few won more than make their way on public transport to the nearest E-Mart or HomePlus. If I had to take a 20 minute bus ride to E-Mart instead of just cross the street, I promise you they'd see my foreign face there a lot less often.