Send over 'Police Academy 3,' and hold the pepperoni

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Send over 'Police Academy 3,' and hold the pepperoni

You can have bottled water delivered. Pizza and noodles, too. But DVDs? Seeing is believing.

Movie fans have for some time been able to buy DVDs, or digital video disks, of almost anything they liked. But despite the plethora of video rental shops around the peninsula, fans still find it hard to rent DVDs.

"About 1,300 videotape rental stores in the nation also lend DVDs," said Bae Myung-ho, an official at EnterOne Corp., a home videotape and DVD producer. "But a majority of those stores have only about 50 DVD titles each. In order to meet the demand of consumers, a store needs at least 300 DVD titles."

Although the number of the consumers who prefer DVDs is increasing, and the price of DVD players has fallen greatly over the last few years, many consumers do not yet strongly feel a need to replace their videotape recorders with DVD players. Accordingly, small rental stores are reluctant to deal with DVDs.

In such conditions, online DVD rental service firms, which deliver disks to a relatively wide area, have sprung up to solve the problems of DVD fans.

DVD Boy, one such delivery company, has about 1,800 DVD titles in stock. After getting a membership with the company, a consumer can make an order and pay with a credit card through the firm's Web site. Then, a staff member delivers the ordered titles to the home or office of the consumer. Rentals are good for a week, and the service also picks up DVDs when they are ready to be returned. The service is provided to all areas in Seoul and to the major cities in Gyeonggi province.

"We began the business one-and-a-half years ago," said Cha Ho-suk, the president of DVD Boy. "Now the number of our members using the rental service is 3,000."

Other online DVD rental service firms, Touch DVD, DVD Maeul and DVDRo, receive orders from consumers in similar ways. Instead of delivering and returning the ordered DVDs in person, these companies send the ordered disks by special delivery to the borrowers.

The packages include envelopes for the return of the disks. After seeing the DVDs, the borrowers are required to put the disks in the envelopes and mail them back.

Mr. Cha is confident of the future of the DVD rental service business. "Now we have reached the break-even point," Mr. Cha said. "The conditions will improve in the future. In the United States, an online DVD rental subscription service firm, Netflix, was listed on the Nasdaq stock market in May."

"In 2004 or 2005," he added, "the scale of the DVD market will surpass that of the videotape market."

by Moon So-young

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