With nothing much to see or show but the same handful of masked faces, Koreans are turning to scents instead to gratify their locked-down senses.
Perfumes and other fragrance products seem to be one of the few consumer goods that have benefited from the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Hyundai Department Store, perfume sales in the first five months of this year surged 62.8 percent compared to the same period a year ago, while sales of niche perfumes, which are usually made in smaller batches by dedicated companies, soared 92.5 percent. Niche perfumes like Diptyque, Jo Malone London, Creed, Byredo and Le Labo are also top-sellers at Shinsegae's duty-free shops.
Lockdown has increased interest in home improvements, not least in the olfactory department, where air fresheners and scent dispensers have fared well. A Hyundai Department Store staffer said, "As people grew more interested in hygiene during the pandemic, more customers are looking for fabric perfume products."
Natural products like essential oils are better than synthetic scents that claim to approximate certain odors. Aromatherapists recommend jasmine or rose to help relieve stress, cinnamon for deodorizing and rosemary or eucalyptus for fresh air. Lavender and sandalwood are good for calming down the mind and helping sound sleep.
But they advise against a cacophony of scents that can agitate the mind and instead recommend sticking to one or two base notes to create a calm and fresh environment.