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by Rebecca Silverman,

The Dangerous Convenience Store

Manhwa Volume 1 Review

The Dangerous Convenience Store Manhwa Volume 1 Review

College student Eui-joon has a part-time job to help defray the costs of school and life, and with his older brother in the hospital, he can't afford to refuse to work the overnight shift at a 24-hour convenience store frequented by gangsters. He can mostly deter bad actors by smiling and being sweet, but things get out of hand one night. That's when Gunwoo, a high-ranking gangster, steps in to help him. Gunwoo begins spending time around the store during Eui-joon's shift, and the two men fall into a sexual relationship. But is Eui-joon ready to live in Gunwoo's world?

The Dangerous Convenience Store is translated by Su-a Min and lettered by Karis Page.


You can read The Dangerous Convenience Store in English two ways. The first is to read it on the manhwa site/app Manta, which has all seventy-five chapters and four bonus stories available. The second is to read Seven Seas' print (or ebook) edition, which, as of this writing, has only the first volume available. While this may seem like a no-brainer – and a Manta subscription will cost you around $5 – there's one crucial factor you need to consider: the Manta version is censored, while the Seven Seas is not. (Well, apart from lightstick penises.)

What does this mean for the story? Mostly, the excision of the sex scenes can make the story feel a little choppy. While not every creator puts in sex scenes for plot purposes, they seem more important to the story in this case. That's not to say they're examples of stellar art and text; they're frankly as implausible and overwrought as any I've read. But the sexual nature of the protagonists' initial relationship is important to how they evolve as a couple, not to mention how Eui-joon works through his longstanding crush on a classmate, which makes me say that the Seven Seas edition may be the way to go if you can. Even without my usual feeling of “I don't necessarily want to see it, but I'll be damned if you tell me, an adult, that I can't see it,” the plot does feel more polished with the explicit bits left intact.

That information aside, The Dangerous Convenience Store is a full-color BL romp. That may seem like an inappropriate word for what is, at times, a quite serious story. It follows Korean college student Eui-joon, who primarily works the overnight shift at a local convenience store. Eui-joon's family can't afford his tuition or living expenses, with the implication being that his brother's extended hospitalization is draining their resources. If Eui-joon wants to attend school and pay rent, he's largely on his own. He's not in a position to turn down paying work. The long hours and little sleep between work and school are bad enough, but his store is smack dab in the middle of gang territory, and the overnight shifts can get very hairy. Usually, he can get by with a smile and a dose of forced obliviousness, but when things get out of hand one night, he's rescued by one of the scarier customers – a large man named Gunwoo. Gunwoo, it turns out, is very high-ranking in one of the gangs, and his support means that Eui-joon can largely get out of the tight spot unscathed. But he doesn't expect Gunwoo to keep showing up during his shift or turn out to be his next-door neighbor. Before too long, the men are falling into a relationship that starts as strictly sexual but is morphing into something more by the end of the volume.

In terms of romance tropes, this one is very firmly in the “opposites attract” category. Gunwoo is big, stoic, and not one to wear his heart on his sleeve. He gives off the impression that he's not entirely sure why he's attracted to Eui-joon; like many a BL character, he's never been attracted to a member of the same sex before. Eui-joon, on the other hand, is out and very comfortable with his sexuality. He tends to ramble and quickly shows his emotions, even when he'd rather not. He's also had a crush on the same guy since starting college, and his initial sexual encounter with Gunwoo is in service of “forgetting” the unattainable young man he's been pining for. He's not fully comfortable with his attraction to Gunwoo, but he's also willing to keep going with their relationship, if only because he's always been a “leap first, look later” kind of person. The implication seems to be that he's developed this attitude to cope with the enormous stress he doesn't like to admit he's under. While we don't know exactly what landed his brother in the hospital, it weighs on Eui-joon more than he wants to say.

The plot is excellent in the romance camp. Everything that happens is to get Eui-joon and Gunwoo together, and it works pretty well. While I wouldn't call it a stellar story, it's engaging, and a lot of what makes it hard to put down is the desperate need for something to go right for Eui-joon. Gunwoo is more tsundere than not, but the implication is that he may not naturally be that way; it's just how he had to become to survive in his world. He's fascinated by the way Eui-joon is so open with his emotions and thoughts, and although he doesn't say it, it looks a lot like he's attracted to and growing fond of the younger man much more rapidly than Eui-joon realizes. He doesn't have much in the way of facial expressions, but his body language does a decent job of showing readers what might be going on in his head.

Like many other full-color Korean titles, The Dangerous Convenience Store was designed to be read on a phone or computer as a vertically scrolling story. That's not too obvious here, although the lack of detailed backgrounds and occasionally page breaks that are less impactful than they might be do hint at these origins. But 945's art is nice to look at, and the pastel color scheme works. Seven Seas provides little between-the-panels translation notes about Korean terms readers may not be familiar with, and it's generally a well-put-together book. If you like BL, it's worth checking out; just think carefully about which format you want to read it in.

Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B

+ Seven Seas edition restores missing sex scenes from Manta edition, story is an enjoyable romance read that allows you to turn your brain off.
Art and color scheme don't always work, Eui-joon can be a bit too naïve at times.

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