COVID-19 changed our everyday lives entirely. Most people have stopped outdoor activities and face-to-face conversations even between family members. Still, you can't stop everything in your life. So, some services and activities became online, such as work-at-home or remote learning. Non-face-to-face interaction, however, lacks the sense of reality. Even if the services continue, these cannot be as satisfying as real experiences. For this reason, drive-through and drive-in services such as drive-in theaters, which had been popular once, are drawing attention again as they expand to various areas.
‘Drive-through' became quite a familiar term now. This is because South Korea pioneered Covid-19 drive-through testing, so-called 'Korean quarantine'. However, drive-through and drive-in services have actually long been used in many countries such as the U.S. or Canada because of their convenience and efficiency. Restaurant drive-thrus are common, and even drive-through weddings, funerals, and voting are not unusual. Then, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world in early 2020, it became harder to return to 'normal', and people started to use such drive-through systems in other industries or events as well, especially where a number of people used to gather.
The wedding, announcing a new start with a lifetime-partner-to-be, is an important event of a lifetime, and naturally, many guests are expected to gather to celebrate. But in a pandemic situation, such a group of people can unknowingly carry and spread the virus. Last year, a Malaysian couple held a drive-through wedding, which attracted worldwide attention. The wedding was held by giving away food as a gift when the guests passed by in a car. In addition, another drive-in wedding was held in Germany using a drive-through theater.
Last November, while the U.S. suffered from the pandemic severely, the country held the 59th presidential election and voted in some regions using a drive-through system. Canada had offered drive-through voting as well to increase voter participation back in 2017, but this is the first time that a government implemented the system because of a pandemic. In Spain, where social distancing is mandatory due to the pandemic, even drive-through funerals were sometimes held. A hearse arrived at the funeral hall and paused for a moment at the entrance of the crematorium to meet the family for the last time in a car.
Here are more examples in South Korea. The risk of cross-infection increases as people gather in closed spaces. It could decrease ventilation airflow rate and increase concentrations. This is the reason why the number of people visiting theaters has declined rapidly since the pandemic. There is a great concern about contagion and they do not want to stay inside with random people in the theater. However, people still want to have fun while watching a movie through a large screen. This is why drive-in theaters are making a comeback as a great alternative way to replace current theaters.
According to the “T Map Trend Map 2020,” published by SK Telecom last March, multiplex users plunged 86% compared to January, while drive-in theater users increased 165%. Drive-in theaters are a way to watch movies while in a car, instead of going inside a theater. It can be much safer than existing theaters for the fact that the theater uses outdoor space and that visitors use their own car. Besides, they do not have to risk unnecessary contact with others when purchasing tickets and checking as well.
Last spring, Genesis opened 'Genesis Cinema', an automobile theater in Paju, Yongin, and Busan. This is a place where customers, who have lost access to cultural events because of COVID-19, can enjoy movies safely non-face-to-face. In order to ensure safety, the audiences were provided with the ‘Genesis Antibacterial Kit’, which contains hand sanitizer and wipes, in thorough quarantine.
Genesis Cinema played a total of 4 films, including 'Architecture 101', 'A Better Tomorrow', and commentary from critic Kim Tae-hoon. In addition, a movie snack called 'Genesis Movie Combo' was provided to make the visitors feel they are actually in the movie theater. In addition, CGV, a domestic movie theater chain, has also established a drive-in theater with Seoul Land. The tickets for CGV X CAR CINEMA, which opened in the back of the Seoul Land parking lot last July, are available online, and on-site ticketing is also drive-through, minimizing personal contact.
The COVID-19 pandemic not only hit the movie industry but also other cultural and art industries, which require artists and fan interaction. Most of the concerts, musicals, and plays have been postponed or halted. However, some drive-in events were held just like drive-in theaters. These rare opportunities soothed and cheered people.
Hyundai Motor Studio Stage X Drive-in Concert (referred to as 'Stage X') is one good example. Stage X is for expressing Hyundai Motor's experimental spirit, which tries to discover new possibilities for the future of cars, in music. Last year, the company rented a parking lot at the KINTEX Exhibition Center 2 near Hyundai Motor Studio Goyang to hold a contagion-free concert.
The latest Stage X was to support those who are exhausted by the long-lasting social distancing, and to send them a message they could overcome this with the power of music. The audience met musicians and performers while staying in their cars. Instead of cheers and shouts, people blinked headlamps and used wipers. They also turned on the light on their smartphone as a cheering tool. The performers on the stage also did their best after a long break that the pandemic caused.
Drive-in concert was not just for one place or genre. 2020 Drive-In National Palace Concert was held by the Palace of Relics Headquarters of the Cultural Heritage Administration, and the Korean Cultural Foundation in Gyeongbokgung Palace last summer. The National Palace Concert, once held regularly, has halted due to COVID 19, then began to use a drive-in system to come back to public life. The Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation also held drive-in concerts and musicals as part of the Art Vaccine Project.
Many experts agree that things will never be the same as they were before the pandemic. Therefore, non-face-to-face services such as drive-throughs and drive-ins are expected to be utilized in more diverse areas in the future. As such, society will change little by little to adapt to the 'new normal', and private cars will also play a more important role. For this reason, the importance of the cabin space will increase, and the consumer taste when choosing a car will also change.
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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