Technology leads to disappearance of Korean American small businesses

December 23, 2015
(AP Photo)

More and more Korean businesses are conceding defeat in Manhattan. (Korea Times file)

By The Korea Times San Francisco staff

Technology provides conveniences to most consumers, but for some Korean Americans who own small businesses, it can be quite the opposite.

In the technology capital of California and arguably the U.S., Northern California’s bay area residents of Korean descent have seen their video rental stores, PC rooms and mobile phone dealerships disappear one by one over the years.

The only remaining Korean American-owned video rental store in Oakland recently closed its doors. Just 10 years ago, Dong-a Ilbo reported that 10 locations still stood strong.

It makes sense.

With the advent of streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, and more specifically those targeted toward Korean demographics such as DramaFever, there’s less of a demand for brick-and-mortar stores.

Even national chains like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video closed their doors within the last decade.

Another common business among the community, PC rooms, also experienced a hit from rapidly developing technology.

Although video games have been on a steady rise in popularity, the cost of computers has sharply declined, while the quality has gone in the opposite direction.

These days PC enthusiasts have taken it upon themselves to build their own computers, which require much less money and more options for customization.

On top of that, internet service providers provide much faster and consistent speeds compared to just a decade ago when choices like DSL and cable internet were not options due to location or cost.

The future may not be very clear for these business owners because even global corporations are still figuring it out.