The number of people exercising at night is rising along with the temperature, and it is affecting local businesses as more of the health-conscious seek shelter from the heat.
“We like to play basketball at night, because we don’t get sunburned and the weather is cool,” said Lee Sang-jun, a 21-year-old college student.
Lee and his church members gather at the Hangang River every Friday at 7 p.m., whenever the minimum number of people needed to form two teams can make it. The group of six to 10 people play for about two hours before heading home.
When asked about the dangers of playing sports at night, Lee, who was resting on the sidelines, said, “I hurt my finger, because I couldn’t really see the ball. It’s a little dark on the court.”
Next to the court, another group of 20-somethings hit a red light-up shuttlecock back and forth across a net.
The four college students, who were on a double date, said they prefer to do “healthy activities” over drinking alcohol on Friday nights.
One male student, in particular, said he has enjoyed exercising at night for some time.
“In middle school, I once got so caught up in playing basketball that I stayed out until 4 a.m.,” the 23-year-old from New York said. “My mom got worried and called my then-girlfriend, thinking that I was with her. I had to apologize to my girlfriend for a week after the incident.”
Local businesses are extending their store hours targeting office workers interested in night sports.
The Gangnam Center of Harley Davidson Korea extended their closing time from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. last month.
“The response is very good. We’ve heard from the dealerships that the extended hours has a positive effect on sales,” Sena Hong at Harley Davidson Korea Marketing Department said.
“We basically provide a place where customers can ride their bikes and have fun. They could get on their bikes and go to a coffee shop, but if they come to our dealership, they can do some shopping or get maintenance services that they were not able to before.”
Sportswear companies have also released products with safety features made for nighttime outdoor activities.
The French activewear brand Eider introduced Pharaoh pants, which contain microscopic particles that can reflect light from bicycle or automobile headlights. The outdoor brand also introduced two models of windbreakers made with anti-bug components in the fabric to protect the wearer from mosquitoes.
The North Face also released the Dynamic 2 Leggings for men, which have reflective lining on the sides and can be worn under shorts.
“It’s a blessing to have Hangang River so close by,” said a retired 72-year-old man who was walking his dog. “(Hangang at night) is so good for your mental and physical health. Anyone who doesn’t take advantage of it is a fool.”
By Suh Ye-seul (firstname.lastname@example.org)