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[Opinion] “Mannergarten”

Posted January. 12, 2005 23:04,   


Most housewives, when asked what household chores they dislike most, answer cleaning the house and washing dishes. Meanwhile, many husbands probably answer that shopping with the wife is the most painful experience.

A wife wants to spend her time shopping with her husband. She understands that her husband might be little bit bored, but she expects her husband to at least pretend he is having a good time, though not enjoying it much. However, what really bothers a husband is not spending money, but shopping with his wife. Every time I come across those “reluctant” husbands in department stores, I myself cannot help but have a deep sympathy for them, since I always feel the same way. Like a cow being dragged to butchery.

Why husbands hate shopping is simple. They have to be dragged by their wives against their will for three or four hours on average. How many wives could stand a husband who spends that much time drinking at a bar? After hours of wandering, a wife picks up the stuff at the shop they first stopped at, and that is when her husband finds himself experiencing the limit of his patience. Finally, he mutters some words, complaining. Then, the responses he gets back from his wife are only blame, such as “Have you ever bought me clothes?” or “You’re complaining because your affection and attention for me are now gone.”

Getting hints from such reluctance of husbands, major department stores are preparing resting places for men only. What an excellent marketing strategy! The Hyundai department store at Mokdong opened “Café-Hus” for husbands only on their floor for women’s clothes. Another at Jungdong also opened “Book Café” for husbands who are tired of shopping. The Shinsegae department store at Kangnam plans to open a resting place for men within the first half of this year, and The Lotte department store at Bundang is preparing an exhibition of prestigious automobiles for men.

Germany has a restaurant that takes care of men while women are shopping. The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) made up a new word for the restaurant by transforming the word “kindergarden,” and called it “mannergarten.” A similar place opened at a British department store late last year and has been gaining a lot of popularity.

The British Independent Magazine advised that 72 minutes is the maximum time limit that a couple can spend shopping together without being irritated, quoting a study by a shopping psychologist.

Oh Myeong-cheol, Editorial writer, oscar@donga.com