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42 Open a Restaurant in Noryangjin 3

 Gun-Ho went to the Korean Foodservice Industry Association to get his required training. He was told the training would be held in the Yeongang building hall next to the Christian Cultural Center in Jongno 5-ga District.

"Wow, a lot of people are here. Are they all going to open a restaurant?"

Gun-Ho slept half of the time during the training; however, some parts were interesting. He remembered the trainer saying, "Ladies and gentlemen! If we have 500 of you here today, 300 of you will close their business within three years. This is the reality."

"If so, how many of us would close their business in five years then?" Gun-Ho took a note diligently.

"Do you know how many restaurants we have in our country? What is the ratio of restaurants to population in Korea? The ratio is 1 restaurant to 75 people. Therefore, you have to compete arduously against each other and keep your business differentiated from others in order to survive. In U.S.A and Japan, the ratio of restaurants to population is 1 to over 100."

"Hmm.., I will have to stay alert for the competition."

Gun-Ho was not aware of the fact that there were so many restaurants in Korea. He suddenly felt nervous and anxious.

After the training, Gun-Ho stopped by the Dongjak District Tax Office to register his business. That office had jurisdiction over Noryangjin.

"Okay, I have the contract with me. That realtor said I needed to bring this to get the business license."

There were a lot of people in that district tax office. He pulled off his number and waited for his turn. After quite a while, his number was up. He already filled out the necessary information in the form such as his personal information, mailing address, etc. through a machine in that office; it was convenient.

"Are you registering as a general taxpayer or a simplified taxpayer?"

"Excuse me?"

Gun-Ho had no idea what those words meant. He was perplexed.

"I'm going to open a Vietnamese restaurant."

"I will issue the business license as a general taxpayer."

After the officer entered some information into her computer, she issued the business license and handed it to Gun-Ho; it was quick.

"Here you are."

"Wow! It's so fast."

Gun-Ho looked at his business license; it was stamped with the district tax chief officer's name. The paper was thick like a college diploma. Gun-Ho remembered seeing these kinds of papers in a frame that were hanging on the wall of the restaurants he had visited.

"Now I have my own business with my name."

Gun-Ho felt happy while holding his business license.

"Oh, I will have to stop by the district health center too!"

In the district health center, Gun-Ho received a physical test in addition to a urine test for sexually transmitted diseases.

"Geez, I am getting all these tests to run a restaurant business... hmm."

He felt great at the end of the day; he received the training, his own business license, and the health certificate.

The deep fried chicken restaurant owner vacated the store, and Gun-Ho paid the remaining 60 million won to him. Before he started renovating the restaurant, he visited other restaurants right next to him. Both owners were young, about the same age as Gun-Ho. The owner of the restaurant on the left side of Gun-Ho's looked dandy while the owner of the BBQ restaurant on the right side looked like a yakuza; he shaved his head and had a mustache.

"What are you planning to open, sir?"

"Sir?"

Gun-Ho felt weird when the other restaurant owner called him sir.

"I will open a Vietnamese restaurant."

"Oh, pho! I think it sounds good."

The general contractor for renovation arrived on a motorcycle.

"We have to take off all of these and change the ceiling light and floor as well."

"How much do you think it will cost?"

"Let me get the estimate for you."

The general manager came up with an estimate of 12 million won.

"Wow! 12 million! Can we lower the price?"

"It is already the lowest price I could get you, sir! Do you want to skip the floor or wallpaper?"

"Hmm... Okay. 12 million won it is."

The renovation started. The workers carried their tools using a van. The restaurant space was filled with the sound of hammering and grinding. A pile of renovation materials appeared in front of Gun-Ho's restaurant. Gun-Ho came to the restaurant every single day during the entire renovation period.

"Sir, what do you think of this color for the wallpaper?"

"Sir, is it okay with you to install the wall shelf here?"

The renovation workers always called Gun-Ho sir. While Gun-Ho was overseeing the renovation, people in a related business visited him.

"Are you the owner of the restaurant? We provide fresh produce to restaurants. I'd like to have an opportunity to work with you."

"Are you opening a new restaurant here? You look really nice, sir. Why don't you try our rice at your restaurant?"

Gun-Ho was getting used to being called sir as people kept calling him such, and now he realized that he was really opening his own restaurant.

Since smoking was prohibited inside a restaurant, restaurant owners and chefs in the surrounding area came to a restroom in an alley next to Gun-Ho's to smoke. In front of the restroom was their spot for smoking. When Gun-Ho went to that spot to smoke, he saw there the restaurant owner who had a shaved head already smoking.

"How's it going with the renovation?"

"They will finish it by tomorrow. I am so sorry for the noise."

"You will be busy with purchasing kitchen appliances."

"Which store do you recommend for kitchen appliances? What about Namdaemum Market?"

"Namdaemum? Why don't you try Sindang Town? You know there is a market street for kitchen stuff."

"Oh, Sindang Town? I heard there is a good one in Hwanghak Town, but I'm not sure about the exact location though."

"Is this your first time opening a restaurant? They are the same market street. The market street covers Sindang and Hwanghak Town."

"Oh, really?"

"Did you used to have an office job before, sir?"

"Yes, I did. I used to work in Asan City, Chungnam Province. Have you been running your restaurant for a long time?"

"Yes, it has been a while. I studied cooking in Japan."

"Oh, really? You are an expert. You have a very unique hairstyle, by the way."

"Oh, this?"

The restaurant owner with a shaved head and a mustache said while rubbing his bald head,

"I shaved my head on purpose. I didn't want any of my hair to fly around in my kitchen."

Gun-Ho didn't see that coming.

"Wow, he is a professional!"

Gun-Ho thought he would learn a lot from this restaurant owner.

"The restaurant owner next to ours who is neat and slim, he seems to come to his restaurant during the mornings only."

"Oh, him? He has three more restaurants other than this one. He is a very busy man."

"Wow, three more? He seemed to be about our age."

"He is very skillful in business. He started his restaurant business right after graduating from Chungang Commercial University and he already has four restaurants. You saw him riding a foreign luxury car, right?"

Gun-Ho thought that dandy restaurant owner was talented as well.

"Once you get into a field, there are always skillful men in that field."

Gun-Ho thought that there were still plenty of things he needed to learn.

When the interior renovation of his restaurant was almost done, Gun-Ho went to the market street in Sindang Town.

"Wow, these are all kitchen stuff!"

Gun-Ho didn't know that there was a market that was focused on kitchen things.

"I will be able to find any pots I want and any plates I want."

The market street was a long way. He could find all kitchen gadgets for boiling, simmering, deep frying, etc. They carried furniture for restaurants as well. Gun-Ho started off his purchase by getting tables and chairs; he chose a black and red combination.