In Korea, room escape games are also called “room escape café”. But in fact, most stores don’t provide drinks or café, the only reason “cafe” appears in the name is because coffee stands an important role in Korea’s pop culture. A Korean would averagely eat kimchi 11.8 times a week, but they would drink 12.8 times of coffee! Café shops are the most popular place for young Koreans to meet and gather, it also represents relaxation and a getaway from everyday life. In year 2015, the first room-escape café “Seoul Room Escape” opened in Seoul, and after that room escape games started springing up.
Korea Vlog 08-COEX Mall and Seoul Escape Room(3:50-5:40)
HOW MANY COMPANIES ARE THERE IN THE INDUSTRY? HOW IS THE COMPETITION GOING?
Korea has around 100 room escape cafés, and over 20 of them are opened in Seoul. The biggest one is “Sherlock Holmes”, it has only started for a bit more than a year, but it already has 13 chain stores, 2 are direct stores and the others are all franchises. On the top of the list there is also “Beat Phobia” that opened last October, and has now 9 franchises in less than a year.
The main customers of room escape cafés are younger generations from age 15 – 25. Recently the age has been expanding both directions, parents start showing up with children, and companies start holding dinner parties at room escape cafés. Statistics from Seoul shows that a person would averagely spend 20,000 Korean dollars, and can get better discounts when you have more people. Also, weekdays or checking-in on Social Medias will usually bring you extra discounts. Most games are designed for a group of 2-6.
Players will usually buy tickets on games’ official websites. Ever since year 2015 when this industry started out, within less than two years there are already countless forums talking furiously about room escape cafés, many blogs that share playing reviews, and even a map that shows details and sheets for evaluations of each café. But there are also bloggers pointing out that more and more sponsored posts are popping up, so remind players to think twice before believing any content in the blogs.
Cooperation with TV producers
Korea is famous for both soap operas and Reality TV shows in Asia area, and the cooperation between TV shows and room escape games are in wide variety, such as famous TV show “Problematic Man (문제적 남자)” filmed by tvN make a special escape game show in December of year 2015, the year room-escape games started out in Korea. The next year JTCB put out a reality show called “CODE: Secret Rooms (코드 – 비밀의 방)”, it incited many Korean stars to participate, and eliminates one contestant during every episode, and the last survivor will win 20 million Korean dollars, here are a few clips from the show:
As for soap operas, the room escape firm Beat Phobia cooperated with the show “Queen Of Mystery (추리의여왕)“ in year 2017, and if you can solve any puzzles related to Queen of Mystery in any Beat Phobia store, you will earn yourself a free ice cream. This lets people who are interested in puzzle solving get to notice this show; this is a successful marketing promotion for the show.
1. Korea NAMU wiki-room escape cafe
2. [TREND] “이젠 나도 셜록 홈즈” 방탈출 카페 열풍…문제풀고 탈출 성공하면 ‘뇌섹남’ 인증 -2016.08.08 (Economic NEWS for escape game in Korea)
3. All That Escape (Korea Escape Room Map)
4. NaverCafe_EscapeRoomCafe (NaverCafé is a famous forum in Korea, its function is similar to Facebook Group, need to be a member to read the articles in the forum)
5. Korean Blogger list -2016-07-21
6. Korea Vlog 08-COEX Mall and Seoul Escape Room -2017.02.28
7. CODE: Secret Rooms [official website (in Korean)]
8. tvN Problematic Man （문제적 남자）Room Escape Special edition 2015-12-02
9. KBS 추리의 여왕 제휴 이벤트 (Beat Phobia Marketing Campaign with soap opera) 2017-04-05