Attention Gamers: IF you haven’t been to Video Game Alley yet- RUN THERE! Game consoles from every generation and games can be found here!
Happy Market Monday! We’re back after a month of travel (videos and posts coming soon)!! Yesterday I headed back to the Electronics Market in Yongsan to purchase a card reader. Before heading that way I stopped in at a friends house. His beloved Xbox 360 had just stopped working so we decided to check out Video Game Alley and see if we could find him a new power brick. The unfortunate state of his Xbox lead us to explore another interesting specialty market in Seoul!
Video Game Alley is located directly past the electronics market. If you walk through the tunnel continue straight. You will see a giant PlayStation poster on your left hand side. Directly underneath it are some stairs with a red sign. Walk in and the down to the basement.
Nearly every gaming console that has ever been in existence can be found in the Alley with hundreds of games and accessories. I relived my childhood as I found a TV hooked up with Super Nintendo and played a few levels of Mario Brothers while a girl next to me used the gun accessory to play duck hunt.
We were instantly able to find the Power Brick, along with several other models for other Xbox 360s, that we needed. The vendor that sold it to us was very helpful. Prior to coming we took a picture of the label and he made sure that the voltage was correct and it was the exact power cord we needed. The vendor was able to read our picture to determine the precise model required.
They also sold a number of bargain bin xbox 360/playstation games, including recent releases for only 9,800 won. Xbox 1 releases in Korea next month.
If you are into Video games I highly recommend making this trip!
Directions: Sinyongsan Station (Exit 5)
Walk straight through the underground tunnel, just to the north of Ipark Mall.
50m past the tunnel you will see a giant PlayStation billboard on your left.
Look for the Red sign underneath and go down the stairs into Video Game Alley
If you’re a music lover coming to Korea, your in luck! Seoul’s music scene is alive and well. Known worldwide for K-pop, you don’t have to be a fan of this genre to enjoy the music Seoul offers. Eastern and Western talent can be enjoyed all around from venues as large as international music festivals held at huge stadiums housing tens of thousands to small dive bars found throughout the city.
On July 9th, I attended a concert at the National Theater of Korea during the Yeowoorak festival, a month long event that is reinventing traditional Korean music. This year the festival is presenting Korean music in four themes Opening, Crossover, Sensation, and Choice. The concert I attended was a crossover performance, which combined three musical acts, DJ Soulscape (Disc-Jockey), Second Session (Jazz), and SC Yun (Alternative/funk) into one performance with the underlying theme of Korean Music. Each performer is independently extremely talented. Combining their music and incorporating traditional Korean music created a show like nothing I have ever seen before.
Held in the Youth Hall, the small circle building was an ideal environment for the performance that was accompanied by a light show and video footage.
There was a constant steady beat that got audience members clapping along and dancing in their seats. The pianist of SC Yun was great fun to watch as he switched from a grand piano to synthesizer and even ran through the crowd using a melodihorn. The music at times seemed psychedelic as DJ Soulscape created new sounds, and the light show and video matched each beat. SC Yun’s unbelievably talented xylophonist performed using several mallets in each hand as Second Session’s drummer and guitarist combined Jazz music to her melody.
When I think of traditional Korean music, the first song, and one I personally love, that comes to mind is Arirang. I’ve heard this song countless time at events in Korea but never like I heard it before as the trio tackled the song first with DJ Souscape introducing the melody in the traditional form and then speeding it up to be combined with SC Yun’s synthesizer and eventually adding in Second Session’s Jazz beats. It was a show I won’t soon forget.
Prior to this performance two music events have really stood out to me. One of the first weeks I was in Korea I attended an Ecological Peace Festival at the DMZ. We stayed at a temple in Gangwon. The second night, musicians from the National Theater came and gave a performance. They used traditional Korean instruments to play both Korean and Western Music. The spring night was warm and lanterns were strung along the entirety of the small stage. As the musicians played their instruments I was absolutely blown away by their talent. Dancers came out from the temple in traditional dress and danced along the grounds, their silhouettes bounced off the temple wall. It was enchanting. My jaw dropped and eyes filled with happy tears as the sweet music echoed from the surrounding mountains. Wow!
On the complete opposite spectrum I have enjoyed Ultra Music Festival in Korea for the past two years. This two day event is held in Olympic stadium on multiple stages. World famous DJ’s showcase their talent as summer days turn into night with some of the most unbelievable mixes.
These two events were both independently amazing, and some of my favorite memories in Korea. If someone told me they could combine the performances into one spectacular show, I’d be skeptical to say the least. I was proven wrong last week when I attended the Yeoksam Music Festival at the National Theater of Korea. It was a completely new and exciting experience and I look forward to seeing the Korean music scene continue to grow while keeping it’s heritage alive.
The Yeowoorak festival is in its 5th year and runs during the entire month of July. A night at the National Theater of Korea is a real treat and the Yeoksam Music Festival has performances that can suit almost any kind of music lover.
Last year audiences filled performances to standing room only with an average seat occupancy of 121%. Generally a night at the Korean Theater comes close to breaking the bank but during the festival tickets are only 30,000 won. The deal gets even better though! As an effort to educate foreigners about Korean music a 50% discount is being offered for foreigners making the tickets just 15,000 won. So with just a few weeks left, do as I did and grab some friends, dress up and have a fun night at the National Theater! It will surely be an unforgettable experience.
The Folk Flea Market is an immense flea market located in the heart of Seoul close to the Cheonggyecheon stream. This market’s aim is to “preserve the culture of the traditional Korean marketplace and draw in visitors with a range of folk items that embody the unique charm of Korea.”
In this two story building you will find vendors selling items including furniture, traditional crafts, fake purses, hiking gear, clothing and much more. The majority of good are used. Everywhere you look there is something new to discover. The market is overflowing with items. It is not a glamorous place, but then again few traditional markets are.
The majority of the items being sold are folk items including paintings and furniture. Because it is mainly indoors it is a great place to come on a cold or rainy day to escape the weather. On weekends merchants spread along the surrounding streets as well.
At the entrance there is a program for foreigners to create traditional crafts free of charge. During operating hours you simply can walk into the small trailer on your rightand a friendly volunteer will assist you with the daily program.
I came to the market with my sister. We started our time there by utilizing the craft station. The day we visited they were making traditional mask magnets. A volunteer showed us what to do and we spent about an hour painting our magnets. It was a fun activity and a great souvenir to take home.
My sister is an interior designer so I wanted to bring her to help me find a few pieces of furniture that I could use to decorate my apartment here, and then ship home once I leave Korea. We wandered around the maze of dealers looking up, down and all around at the thousands of items on display.
There were so many beautiful pieces it was hard to choose. After a few hours walking around both floors we found several pieces that stood out. We went back to each merchant and inquired about pieces. The majority of vendors do not speak English but they are able to communicate through showing prices on paper or a calculator. Most will barter for a final price.
I’ve been to the market now several times. The merchants are always getting new items. I am still in search of a Korean screen I can bring home with me but the ones for sale were out of my price range. I will have to visit again.
In the end I chose three pieces of Korean style furniture: a trunk, nightstand and shelf. Everything including a metal Buddha statue cost me around $400. The merchant also arranged a deliveryman to bring the furniture to my home on the spot. The delivery fee (including a free ride home with my furniture) cost me $20.00.
If you are looking for some great Korean used goods I highly encourage a trip the Folk Flea Market. Even if you are not interested in making a purchase it is still a fun place for browsing. The market also has a small food court with many traditional Korean dishes. There is an ATM on site. I am happy to say that now, no matter where I end up, my home will always have a piece of Korea in it.
2 story indoor folk flea market
Hours: Everyday 10am- 6:30 pm Closed every second and fourth Tuesday
After a long day, I am always tempted to dance my way out of work to the latest K-Pop hit towards the closest theme café where I can drop double digits on a coffee while petting dogs, trying on wedding dresses or getting my feet manicured by fish. These quirky cafes and plethora of other awesome Seoul eateries is just one of the many reasons why I have fallen head over heals for this city.
Yesterday an online video was launched that made me think I should forgo one of these beloved trips each month to budget a few bucks towards giving back to a local charity and making the world a better place.
The International Vaccine Institute (IVI) is an independent international organization headquartered in the heart of Seoul that’s mission is to ‘discover, develop and deliver safe, effective, and affordable vaccines for developing nations.’ The development and licensure of Shanchol™, an oral cholera vaccine (that has been approved by the World Health organization), is one of IVI’s most significant, groundbreaking contributions.
Last month I was able to meet the staff of IVI at a launch party of the “Choose Your World” campaign. Their staff is comprised of passionate individuals who are working to make a difference for the world. While the anti-vaccine crowd has gotten a lot of hype in the western world, many people forget that in developing countries, which lack the luxury of affordable vaccinations, vaccines can be the difference between life and death. “We develop vaccines for the poor” stated Deborah Hong of Communications and Advocacy at IVI. “We wanted to break away from the seriousness of what we do, …(by doing) something that is humorous, human and real.”
Through support from around the world, South Korea was able to rise from utter devastation, after the Korean War, into the ranks of the world’s top 20 nations. Today, Korea has become a high tech wired and fully developed nation capable of providing aid to others.
Korea has given me a home, paycheck, many friendships and endless memories in the short year I’ve lived here and for that I am grateful. To show my appreciation and respect for my adopted (albeit temporary) home I am supporting a Korea based company that is impacting the world.
This month IVI launched a video campaign entitled “Choose Your World,” that shows what big impacts a small donation can make. The 3-minute video depicts the cutting-edge research, development and vetting of new vaccines, and vaccine delivery to at-risk regions of the world is that is funded purely by charitable gifts.
“We wanted to clearly depict how much a small donation can do for the citizens of the world who suffer from conditions that can be easily prevented,” said Dr. Thomas F. Wierzba, Deputy Director General of Vaccine Development & Delivery at IVI, “We believe that the campaign has effectively captured the significance of the work we do, and we look forward to sharing our vision with the world.”
NYK Media Group (an ad-media boutique based out of Seoul) produced the campaign, which includes a behind the scenes documentary and microsite that helps to showcase what IVI does in terms that the every day user can understand.
The media campaign is also running on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube making it easy to check out the great things your cash is doing through IVI and let you know about their recent developments through your news feed. So for this Seoulmate, the taste of instant coffee and relying on my husband’s bad jokes for entertainment a few (more) days a month is a small sacrifice.
When I think of Thailand I think of Paradise. I think of Escaping a dreary Seoul winter. I think of Lazy days spent lounging on white sand beaches, sipping fresh coconuts topped off with Sang Som, riding elephants, and discovering some of the most stunning views I could ever dream of. But above and beyond, when I think of Thailand I think of their dynamite food!
I love living in Seoul, but one thing Korea lacks is tropical beach destinations. During cold months this sun worshipper longs to relive the sites, smells, and sweet memories of Thailand and a great Thai dinner always puts a smile on my face, as my belly gets full of delicious food while simultaneously filling my head with cherished memories.
Recently I was invited to try Saint Augustin Thai Restaurant in Myengdong’s M-Plaza. Saint Augustin has franchises throughout Seoul. They have an extensive menu of Thai dishes with their signature dish being the Poo Phad Phong Kari “fried soft-shelled crab in yellow curry.”
The restaurant has good ambiance, with posh décor, an attentive wait staff and nicely plated dishes, which makes for a sophisticated dining experience (quite the contrast from many of the meals I ate at in Thailand on plastic benches with wobbly tables located in alleyways).
The food does not resemble the street food your might remember from a backpacking trip through Thailand, but has been refined to match the atmosphere of the restaurant. Dishes come in large portions and are perfect for sharing. Menu prices start at 18,000 for noodle and rice dishes and 29,000 for main courses. Set lunch specials are also available.
My friend joined me for this outing and we had a fun night full of house red wine, decent food, and good conversation. Our waiter introduced us to the menu and made recommendations based on the restaurant’s most popular dishes. We followed his advice and began our meal with an appetizer of Thai Shrimp Dumplings (9,000).
For our main courses we ordered the Poo Phad Phong Kari (29,000) and Goongyai Pad Thai (18,000). I really enjoyed the Poo Phad Phong. The crab was delicate and fresh tasting with egg in the curry sauce. The Pad Thai was not one of the best I’ve had but well made with light sauce and perfectly cooked noodles. I was impressed by a large prawn that accompanied the Pad Thai but found the taste a little fishy.
Overall we had a lovely dinning experience. Was it one of my favorite Thai dinners in Seoul? No and I would be more likely to choose a more authentic place in the future with more affordable prices.
Thai ‘Fusion Asian Food’
2.5 out of 5 Stars
27, Myeongdong 8-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 중구 명동8길 27 (명동2가)
Directions: Myeong-dong Station, line 4, Exit #6 Turn left and walk down the main street. You will see M-Plaza 200m on your right directly after Forever 21.
**M-Plaza also houses Seoul Tourism Organization where they offer many wonderful services including tourism information, traditional craft classes and a hanbok photo experience free of charge!
You don’t have to be a gadget guro, techy, or electronics lover to want to check out the Yongsan Electronics Market. This massive market sprawls behind Yongsan station and is comprised of 5 large buildings and over 2000 shops both inside and out. If it plugs in a wall or is battery operated you can find it here as well as every cord, computer part, cd, game, or gadget you could every dream of. Electronic lovers be warned if you head to the market you may find yourself lost in the maze of shops for days. Korea is the 2nd largest electronics consumer in the world and wandering around can easily put that into perspective.
I love my computer, phone, and gadgets as much as the next person, but when I found myself needing an item I was less then excited to make the trip. However, when I got to the market, I suddenly became a kid in a candy shop. I was able to find the software I had come to purchase with in minutes. I walked to the street vendors selling every movie, game, and software ever made and asked for my item. Somehow they were able to retrieve the CD from their massive collection of booklets effortlessly. Talk about organization! If you don’t speak Korean do not fear! Many vendors speak some English and if not they can find someone speaking English to assist you. With a little negotiation I purchased the CD and continued to walk around, not sure what direction to look in as I was surrounded by technology.
So what exactly can you find here? Each building and floor is zoned into different categories making for organized chaos. A shopping trip to the electronics market, like many of Seoul’s markets, is always an intense, chaotic experience. For those interested in building computers, the Yongsan electronic markets offers millions of parts. You can buy individual items or pay a merchant to build a computer for you.
Lost or forgot a certain cord or charger while in Seoul? No fear the market surely will have it as well as converters, USB, and memory card storage and cases. Home appliances such as rice cookers, vacuums and hair straighter are also sold in several of the buildings. If you’re looking for fun gadgets like blue tooth speakers, light up ear buds, or cell phone cases many of the stores carry these items.
Prices are very reasonable and often can be negotiated. Americans visiting the shop find that prices are similar to sale prices in the U.S. Foreigners coming from countries that have higher electronic prices will be sure to find a bargain for what they are looking for here. Want additional savings? Carry cash and most merchants will give you a 5-10% discount.
Najin, Seonin, Wonhyo: 9:30am-7:30pm
Electronics Land: 10:00am-7:30pm
Terminal Market: 10:00am-8:00pm
Space 9: 10:00 am- 8:00 pm
Many of the markets are closed the first and third Sunday of Each month.
Subway: Yongan Station (Line 1) Exit 2 – Market is directly across from the Station
Spring is here, and as the temperatures rise, flowers continue to bloom all around Seoul. In recent weeks I’ve noticed roses blooming on many street corners. I don’t think anyone can deny the beauty of a rose! Wanting to experience a day surrounded by these beautiful flowers, I headed to Seoul Grand Park.
Seoul Grand Park is located in Gyeonggi-do nestled in front of some of Seoul’s beautiful mountains. The trip takes about 40 minutes, via subway line number 4, south from Seoul center. The entertainment park spreads over 7,000,000 square km and offers a variety of facilities including an amusement park (Seoul land), Zoo, chairlift viewing ride, botanical garden and rose garden. You can have great fun there whether going to a specific attraction or making a day of your trip!
When you arrive at Seoul Grand Park Station the park will be directly outside of exit 2. If you follow the path you will come to a large building. This facility offers a shuttle service that will bring you anywhere in the park for 1,000\ per trip. If you prefer to walk, go around the building to your right and you can follow the path to the main circle route that will bring you to all attractions. The rose garden is about a 1/2 kilometer walk. You will find it across from the zoo on your left.
There are over 20,000 roses in the garden and 203 species. As of Today (May 22, 2014) many roses are in bloom at the park. They are expected to be at their peak the last week in May through the first week in June. A trip to the garden offers beautiful sites and fabulous aromas. The rose garden festival is scheduled this year May 24th through June 30th.
The Rose garden is set next to Seoul Grand Park’s lake. The facility offers pavilions for shade and is a perfect place to pack a picnic and enjoy the day. We had a great time strolling through the park and seeing the many kinds of roses. Each species is labeled in English. It was interesting to see the color variations and smell each species in order to experience each individual aroma.
Seoul Grand Park Rose Garden
Admission: Adult ticket \2,000
*Each attraction at Seoul Grand Park can be purchased a-la-carte or a discounted bundle ticket is available at the main entrance.
Directions: Seoul Grand Park Station (Subway Line 4) Exit 2Rose