The joys of a buy one get one offer, the sorrows of packaged rice balls, and four hearty laughs for only 10,000 KRW
This story is about a particular convenience store serving every tired soul that stops there.
The Inconvenient Convenience Store is a heartwarming comedy about the lives and emotions of ordinary people who frequent a small convenience store in one corner of Cheongpa-dong, Seoul.
The story begins when Dokgo, a homeless man who spends much of his time around Seoul Train Station, is offered a night shift job as a convenience store cashier after helping the store owner, a woman in her 70s, find her lost wallet. People initially have doubts, wondering whether this big clumsy bear of a man who has trouble remembering things with his alcohol-damaged brain could keep his job. To everyone’s surprise, though, he does his job well and intrigues and captivates people around him, becoming a symbolic night guard for the store and the neighborhood.
Kim, a master at creating a vividly alive world of unpredictable messes and fun with realistic portrayals of his characters, introduces exciting and colorful characters with unique backgrounds in this novel, letting them interact and form relationships in their chaotic ways. Ms. Yeom, who used to teach history at a high school before she acquired the convenience store, cannot help but try to teach everyone at every possible moment. She is joined by several characters who could not be more different from her, including Si-hyeon, a young part-time store worker who wants to find a stable career; Ms. Oh, a woman in her 50s who also works part-time to support herself and her family; Gyeong-man, an office worker who ends his workday by consoling himself with instant noodles in a cup, a tuna-filled rice ball, and a bottle of soju at a table outside the store; In-gyeong, a playwright in her 30s who recently moved to Cheongpa-dong in the hopes that, for one last time, she could write something she could be proud of; Min-sik, Ms. Yeom’s son who is constantly attempting to pull the rug under his mother’s feet by selling the store; and Mr. Kwak, a private detective hired by Min-sik to investigate Dokgo’s background. Weighed down by their problems and preoccupations, all these characters develop divulging realizations of who Dokgo is. The ensuing misunderstandings, antagonisms, conflicts, turnarounds, discoveries, and pathos make the reader laugh and cry. The small corner store, which used to be an inconvenient necessity in these characters’ lives, ultimately transforms into a special place where the characters come together to laugh and console each other.
Life is all about relationships and communication.
Happiness is nothing more than opening up to people around us and allowing them to open up to us.
Through seven episodes and the other characters’ perspectives, the novel reveals who Dokgo is before concluding with his monologue. As he gets more and more used to working in the convenience store, Dokgo recovers his memories bit by bit. Interacting and communicating with other people undid some of the alcohol-induced damage to his brain, enabling him to piece together fragments of his lost memories. How did he lose everything, become an alcoholic, forget his sense of self, and become a vagabond? One particular thing about the man is that having spent two seasons at the store made him want to live again. Now that he is about to recover nearly all his lost memories, the news of major COVID-19 outbreaks in Daegu reaches him, forcing him to make a decision quickly.
This magically human story of an inconvenient convenience store consoles the pandemic-stricken community and readers with laughter and warmth. As you finish reading the last page, it reminds you that life is all about relationships and communication and that happiness is nothing more than opening up to people around us and allowing them to open up to us.