Recently Japanese visitors to South Korea have been noticing a strange trend with automobiles. Cars of all makes and models from minivans to luxury sedans can be seen sporting small rectangular blue sponges stuck to their sides.  What is it about these little things that people love and why are they always blue?

The simple answer is to prevent this:

Like most Asian countries, South Korea suffers from extremely tight parking spaces.  It’s so bad that even with the upmost care, it’s hard to avoid dinging the vehicle next to you.

When cars are transported from the factory to the dealership, they’re given the sponges for protection, which explains the uniform shade of blue they all have.  However, when the cars are bought, the new owners prefer to keep them on too. It would seem that the choice between an unsightly blue square and a chipped paint job isn’t really a choice at all.  As a result the trend is steadily on the rise and may crossover into neighboring countries too.

There is one problem with this trend though. After a while the sponges can get pretty grimy:

When this happens it’s time for a trip to the dealership to acquire some fresh ones, else risk looking like a filthy hobo. However, this minor inconvenience may become a thing of the past as blue sponge makers are diving into the aftermarket game with designer lines of sponges.

So keep your eyes peeled in your own part of the world to see if this trend is catching on.  Also, if you’re the investing type, you may want to look into a tiny blue sponge manufacturer near you!

Source: Naver Matome (Japanese)
Images: FC2 – tec_tac, Ameba – Bichiko, Car Watch