365 DAYS OF SEOUL SEARCHING

December 6, 2010

TOY ALLEY SOUTH KOREA

Changsin-dong Toy Street – A.k.a Toy Alley

Dongdaemun Station, Line 4, Exit/Way Out 4

At the top of Exit 4’s stairs head left down the street and Toy Alley is the first right

Toy Alley sounds like a fictional place right from the pages of Harry Potter.  Truth be told it exists and is just as magical.  I heard of Toy Alley from some friends in passing and immediately knew that I had to see it for myself.  My 4-year-old nephew’s birthday was just a few weeks away giving me the perfect excuse to venture out.  It was exactly what I had been told.  An alley just with one toy shop right after the other.  A bit odd since in the United States when opening a store people tend to find what is not in a location and try to fill a gap.  This philosophy does not ring true in South Korea.  Here if one toy store exists then why not a hundred.  I have come to prefer this when I am purpose shopping though it does become a little overwhelming at times.  The beauty of toy store after toy store is that I just hit up ten shops within a 500 foot span and easily found my nephews gift in a timely manner.  I have returned to Toy Alley three times since its discovery!  In addition to toy stores this street is full of stationery stores, stuffed animal stores, children’s umbrella stores, kids toy sports stores and party stores.  If you are looking for party supplies such as paper plates, table clothes, balloons, table decor then look no further.  These party stores during Halloween had an impressive selection of costumes and now that it is Christmas they sell all sorts of holiday lights, decor and ornaments.  This is a cool place to visit whether you have a designated need or not.  Just a warning though that if you peruse with children you better be ready to whip out the wallet!

Note: Most of the stores preferred cash.  Many accepted cards but only with an additional fee to the purchase.

November 6, 2010

National Geographic Photo Exhibition in Seoul

If you are looking for something to do in November and love photography the Seoul Arts Center is featuring the National Geographic Photo Exhibition which runs now through December 9th, 2010.  On display are 200 photos capturing landscapes and the animals that habitat them.

National Geographic Photo Exhibition (Oct. 29th – Dec. 9th)

Location: Seoul Arts Center

To get here: Nambu Bus Terminal, Line 3, Exit 4.   Come up the Exit 4 stairs and turn so that the bus terminal is on your right.  Walk about 20 feet and take the first right (rounding the corner).  Walk to the top of the hill, passing a wedding hall on your left.  At the top of the hill you are forced to choose left or right, choose to turn right.  Walk 10 minutes down this busy road and the Seoul Arts Center is on your left at the major intersection across from the Starbucks.

Price: Adults 10,000 won / Teens 8,000 won / Children 6,000 won.

Website: http://www.ngphoto.co.kr

Phone: 1544-1681

October 9, 2010

THE SEOUL INTERNATIONAL FIREWORKS FESTIVAL (Sat. 10/9/10)

Photo pulled from: Bulnori.com

If you are looking for something fun to do this weekend (10/9/10) don’t miss out on the highly talked about Seoul International Fireworks Festival.  Hanwha Co. Ltd, who is the festivals fireworks promotion team, continuously developes new firework products and has been attempting for years to alter the traditional firework viewing experience into a modern piece of art.  Hanwha’s team synchronizes the fireworks to music and interject lights, lasers and images to heighten the audience’s viewing experience!

The festival is free and located down by the Yeouido Hankang Citizen’s park starting at 7:30pm.  Firework displays will be presented by representatives from China, Korea and Canada.

To get there take:

Subway: line 5, Yeouido Station, line 5 exit 3, 5 minutes towards National Assembly
or Yeouinaru Station, line 5, exit 1, 5 minutes towards Kukmin Daily Bldg.

The schedule for the night’s proceedings is:
Wonhyo Bridge:
19:30 ~19:50 – CHINA Fireworks
19:50 ~20:00 – Intermission 10 min.
20:00 ~20:20 – CANADA Fireworks

Hangang Rail Bridge:
20:20 ~ 20:30 – Intermission 10 min
20:30 ~ 21:00 – KOREA Fireworks

September 4, 2010

Things to Do in Seoul (September 4th – 5th, 2010)

Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like too many things are going on in Seoul this weekend but here are a few things I found in case you are looking for some last-minute ideas.  I have not attended any of these so if you get the chance to go please comment back on how they were!

* The 4th Annual Chungmuro International Film Festival

Dates: September 2nd – September 9th, 2010

Location: Lotte Cinema and CGV (Myeongdong)

Films: 115 Films from 130 Countries

Website Info: http://eng.chiffs.kr/eng/introduce/2010_chiffs_introduction.asp

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* Miss Saigon

This world-famous musical will only be in Seoul for a little while longer.

DATE: Now – September 12th, 2010
TIME: Tue – Fri: 8pm / Sat: 2pm, 7pm / Sunday: 1pm, 6pm
COST: from W22,000 to W121,000 (Depending on Seats)
VENUE: Seongnam Arts Center, Gyeonggido

Directions: Subway: Get off at Sindang station (stop 206, 635), Gate 9 and walk 50m toward Dongdaemun history and culture park  or get off at Dongdaemun history and culture park station ( stop 205, 422, 536) and walk 300m toward Sindang crossroads

Tickets:
Weekdays(Tue-Thur)- R: 110,000 won, S: 88,000 won, A: 66,000 won, B: 44,000 won, seat partially obstructed view seats: 22,000 won
Weekends(Fri-Sun) – R: 121,000 won, S: 99,000 won, A: 77,000 won, B: 55,000 won, seat partially obstructed view seats: 33,000 won

Phone Info: 02-518-7343
Website: http://www.miss-saigon.co.kr

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Seocho Flea Market

(Appears to run most Saturdays but no confirmation on this)

Date: Saturday, September 4th, 2010

Time: 10am – 2pm

Location: Sadang Public Parking Lot – Sandang Subway Station, Line 2-3, Stop 226 or 433

Additional Information: 02-2155-8915

August 21, 2010

SEOUL OPEN NIGHT!

Photo by: Rebecca Langlais

If you are into the arts then tonight, August 21st, 2010 is your night.  The 3rd Annual Seoul Open Night begins at 6:30pm and runs till 12am.  A 10,000 won festival “cultural pass” gains you access to museums, concert halls, galleries and themed tours that operate and will be staying open late tonight. Passes will be sold at the door to the events.

Many of the street events will begin at 12pm.

Four of Seoul’s hottest shows, “Nanta,” “Sachoon,” “Jump” and “Miso,” are included on the cultural pass.  Deoksu Palace will be featuring a classical music concert.  With your pass a Hanok (Korean traditional house) tour is available in Bukchon.  Like live music?  This cultural pass is also offering concerts featuring Nevada #51, Huckleberry Finn, Ynot and NO. 1 KOREAN throughout Hongdae.

If you’re not into the arts but love to learn about the city of Seoul then perhaps a Seoul Tour is more up you alley.  Each tour has its own theme such as The Han River Tour, A Fortress Tour and A Seoul Architectural Tour.

Seoul Open Night is held in the five art districts of Jeong-dong, Daehangno, Bukchon(Hanok village), Hong-dae and Insa-dong.  The opening ceremonies begin at 6:30pm at The Seoul Plaza Stage

Getting To The Stage: Gwangwhamun Station, Line 5, Stop 533 Exit 5 (walk toward City Hall) or City Hall Station, Stops 132 or 201, Exit 5 walk toward the park).

Many of the information sites such as http://www.casp.or.kr and http://cafe.naver.com/seoulopennight are NOT in English so it is recommended that if you wish to participate in any of these events you call the Dasan Call center (02-120) for assistance!

SEOUL GRAND SALE 2010

Recently signs for the Seoul Grand Sale have been splashed across the city and every girl in Seoul seems to have one thing on their mind…shopping!  If you live in Seoul this is a great event to participate in because although it is advertised as a shopping event; which it is; it also features a number of performances and discounts on tourist attractions and things to do around the city!

http://www.seoulgrandsale.com/2010/en/seoulinfo/grandsale.asp

From July 21st – September 12th, 2010 Seoul is turning into a major shopping mecca.  Advertised as the largest shopping festival in the world 600+ retailers are offering discounts on their merchandise and featuring giveaways.  Stores such as Calvin Klein, Forever 21 and Cottiny are all participating.

In addition to this 20 of the largest companies and tourist attractions in the city have their own enticements to get locals to join in on the event.  For example:

(COUPONS MUST BE PRINTED OFF OF THE GRAND SALE WEBSITE FOR ATTRACTIONS!)

* Seoul Tower is offering 10% off of their observatory ticket (www.nseoultower.com)

* 20% off 63 Building Attractions: Wax Museum, Aquarium, IMAX Theatre and Observatory Deck (www.63.co.kr)

* LOTTE Cinema is offering 4,000 off the price of a ticket when a Korean brings a foreigner to see a movie (Restrictions apply!!!)

* Paradise Casino is offering 20,000 won worth of chips to any foreigner.  You must present your passport.  (www.paradisecasino.co.kr)

The Seoul Grand Sale 2010 Shopping Event also features a weekly performance on the Worri Bank stage in Myeong-dong.  This week’s event is Nanta!

2010 Seoul Grand Sale Weekly Event!

11:00 am ~ 13:00 pm Saturday August 21st, 2010
(Performance will be from 11:30 till 12:30)
The stage in front of Woori bank in Myeong-dong
Nanta performance and various giveaway events.
Event, information, participating store lists, maps and printable discount coupons can all be found online at:
http://www.seoulgrandsale.com/2010/en/seoulinfo/grandsale.asp

July 17, 2010

Things to do in Seoul (July 17th – July 18th, 2010)

Filed under: 365 Days of Seoul Searching — Tags: , , , , — beckylanglais @ 3:05 am

Here’s a brief list of a few things going on this weekend in Seoul.  I know it’s short but it is 3:00am and in a few hours I will be headed for the train station to go to Boryeong Mud Festival.  My main suggestion is still to try to make your way South-west for the festival but if you are stuck in Seoul or feel it is too late to adventure outside the city here are a few things that are going on:

Wedding Korea Expo

July  17th – July 18th, 2010

11:00am – 8:00pm

http://www.weddex.com

Coex – Hall A

WEDDEX KOREA is the largest exhibition for Korea’s wedding related industry with more than 150 exhibitors and 25,000 visitors participating every half a year. First started in 1992 as an annual event, it has been held two times a year since 1996 to cover tremendous demand and support from both visitors and exhibitors who target spring and autumn, the two biggest wedding seasons in Korea.

Even if you are not getting married it might still be fun to go check this out and see what weddings are all about here in Korea.  I’m sure there will be some good give-aways!

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Find the True Craftsman

Insa Art Center – Insa-dong

July 14th – July 26th, 2010

An event featuring 35 masters performers and artists who have been named “Important Intangible Cultural Properties.  The event is an annual presentation in which those designated as “Important Intangible Cultural Properties” and their apprentices present their talents in an astounding show of cultural skill and talent. This year features performances, demonstrations, and exhibitions by as many 35 artists.  Masters representing 26 different crafts/fields are expected to be in attendance, including those skilled in knot-making, pottery, najeon, and dancheong.
Each day of the festival (from 10:00~12:00 and 14:00~16:00) will feature 6 to 7 different craft-making demonstrations and performances, free of charge.

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14th Pifan – International Fantastic Film Festival

Bucheon City – Seoul

http://www.pifan.com/eng/pifan2010/01_pifan.asp

The 14th PiFan will be held at Bucheon, Gyeonggi-do for 11 days from July 15th to 25th. The  film festival will present 193 movies from 42 countries along with a range of side events.

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Also scroll down and check out last weekends list because many of the exhibits are on going through the month.

July 9, 2010

THINGS TO DO IN SEOUL (JULY 10TH – 11TH, 2010)

This weekend pretty much sucks for me since I have to work an Open House at my school all day on Saturday. What does that mean?  It means teaching groups of 14 phonics, for 20 minutes all day for 5 hours while their parents sit and watch me.  Best part is that the managers and directors keep insisting that I make sure to make the classes fun so the parents are happy.  Ummmm, do phonics and fun really go together???

Anyway since people seemed to like my posting of some interesting things to do in Seoul for the weekend I figured I’d try it again.  Here’s a really basic list since it is Friday night and I’ve run out of time so if you like any of these events then you may have to do a little research to figure out the exact details.  Since I won’t be able to get out to do any of these things I hope some of you will go out and enjoy them for me!

Things to do in Seoul, South Korea July 10th – July 11th, 2010

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International Camping and RV Show

Coex Mall, Hall A, 10am – 5pm, July 9th – 11th, 2010

The “International Camping & RV Show 2010” will be hosted from July 9th to July 11th at COEX, Samsung-dong.
This show is an opportunity for the buyers and customers to see the exhibitors’ camping products as well as the current trend in the camping industry.

We invite all campers to the fair.

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Korea World Dance Stars Festival

International Performing Arts Project
401F, 16-9 Hyehwa-dong
Jongro-gu, Seoul,
Korea
Phone: +82 (02) 3674-2210
July 1st – 12th, 2010
The Korea World Dance Stars Festival began in 2001 with the aim of bringing together Korean dancers with international dancers to create a cultural exchange and to further develop their artistic craft. The program includes performances in classical and contemporary ballet as well as modern dance.

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16th Kimchibilly Night: Queens of Noise (Featuring Girl Bands)

Jul 10, 2010 10:00 pm (Saturday)

RMT Hongdae
Featuring: The Rock Tigers, Rubber Duckie, Super 8Bit, Story Teller

10,000 won / Doors open 10pm

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Pulitzer Prize Winning Photos Exhibit

June 22nd – August 29th, 2010

Times: 11:00 – 20:00
Admission: W10,000 Adults
Venue: Hangaram Design Museum, Seoul Arts Center

Take the Subway to Nambu Bus Terminal Station on Line 3 (stop 341). Go out exit 4 /5 and walk about 15-20 minutes or take a taxi.  Taking the bus is another option: Shuttle bus No. 12 or regular bus No. 4429.

Info: (02) 2000-6330 (if no English speaker, contact 1330)

This special exhibit features 145 Pulitzer-winning photographs that capture some of the most important moments in recent history.

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Korean Baseball League

Visit: http://www.koreabaseball.com for more information and tickets

Saturday 10 July 2010
LG Twins vs. Doosan Bears at Jamsil, 5 p.m.
Nexen Heroes vs. Samsung Lions at Mokdong, 5 p.m.

Sunday 11 July 2010
LG Twins vs. Doosan Bears at Jamsil, 5 p.m.
Nexen Heroes vs. Samsung Lions at Mokdong, 5 p.m.

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Korean War Art Exhibit

Daelim Contemporary Art Museum

10am – 6pm (Closed on Mondays)

4,000 won / http://www.daelimmuseum.org

June 25th – August 20th, 2010

Subway Number 3 line to Kyongbokgung station and take exit number 4. Follow the orange sign board in the street.

The exhibition『On The Line』consists of ten stories about the Korean War today perceived through the eyes of the participating artists. Their work examines the forms of the current state of war on the Korean peninsula while revealing the sociocultural and psychological impact of the border. They focus on the border not as the visual national boundary, but as the implicative line― caused by the Korean War, the most crucial event in the Korean History― between past and present, pain and beauty, division and reunification, isolation and harmony, desire and forbiddance, and finally Korea and the world.
From prewar generation photographers who are now over 70 years old to young ones armed with digital equipment, the artists that participated in the trip represent the different memories and meanings of the war in Korean society today. The artists’ pursued their individual interests by selecting their own subjects and choosing the time and place meanwhile receiving full support for their artistic expression from the Defense Ministry.

July 4, 2010

OUTDOOR SWIMMING POOLS IN SEOUL

It is the 4th of July and what else do you want to do besides go sit by a pool and swim for the day.  Here’s the map of all of the local outdoor pools open to the public:

Notes:

* It costs approximately 5,000 won to enter one of these pools for the day!

* You have to wear a swimming cap when visiting these pools.  They cost 4,000 won if you buy them there.  (The boy lifeguards let me get away with just my baseball cap for most of the day but then when it switched to girl lifeguards they insisted I buy one.)

* I usually go swimming at the Yeouido Pool and it is important to know that you don’t just walk out of the subway and have the pool right there.  You have to walk along the river (river on your right) for about .5 of a mile.  You’ll know you’re at the pool when you see all the red and blue umbrellas.

* Every hour an announcement goes off and then what sounds like an air raid siren which means that everyone must evacuate the pool.  The pool remains empty for what feels like about 15 minutes and then another announcement is made and everyone is allowed back in.

* It costs extra to sit in a plastic chair.  It costs 5,000 for the entrance fee, then 5,000 won to rent a chair for the day and then on top of that you must put down a 5,000 deposit for the chair tag which you get back at the end of the day when you return the tag.  To rent a chair visit the booth selling the floats, children’s toys and swim caps.  If you don’t want to spend the money there is no additional charge to sit on the concrete all day.

* Food and beverages are allowed into the pool area; liquor, however, is not.

June 29, 2010

“Our Nation Honors Her Sons and Daughters Who Answered the Call to Defend A Country They Never Knew and People They Never Met”

June 25th, 2010 was the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War so I found it only fitting this weekend to go visit the Korean War Memorial here in Seoul.

Subway Line 4 or 6 at Samgakji Station

Walk East and the Memorial is on your left (Can’t Miss it)

Admission: FREE (Unless you want to see Inside the DMZ exhibit and there’s a small fee for that)

I knew this was going to be an emotional journey for me.  I never do well when it comes to the idea of war, or knowing how many lives have been sacrificed in war.  I also wonder why the world feels it must solve problems by slaughtering the hell out of another nations men, women and children.  Althought I knew this would be a sad experience I also knew that I am both an American and currently, for the year a Korean, and therefore it is important to know the history of this country.  In the end I am really glad I went…

When first approaching the building there are two long halls.  The halls have tall plaques running the length of them listing the people who did not make it out of the war alive.  One hall is dedicated to the Koreans and the other hall is dedicated solely to the Americans.  The museum was surprisingly empty even though it was an anniversary and the hall was sterile, concrete, and dark.  As I passed plaque after plaque I couldn’t stop thinking about death, and destruction, and how many young men left their families to travel across the world to die in a land that they didn’t even know and honest to god I broke down in the middle of that hall and started crying.  I rushed over to one of the slots between the plaques that acted as a window to the outside world and worked to compose myself.

The memorial is phenomenal.  The way it is built is very somber and you could tell that a lot of thought really went into the creation.  The second floor is the floor that I spent most of my time on.  It houses movies and displays all about the war: how it really got started, how it was fought, and ultimately how we have come to this sort of stalemate.

The museum was very educational.  I know I made it sound totally depressing but in all honesty this is a great way to spend an afternoon and if you happen to be visiting with kids or stationed her with kids I recommend it even more.  One of the highlights of the museum was that they had a massive inner room housing planes, trucks, motorbikes, and helicopters that kids could climb and play on and then outside there is a massive field with the same along with huge planes, tanks, and a boat.

It was really fascinating to be surrounded by a memorial dedicated to such sadness but then to have a ton of kids running around in pure joy.  There was one statue of a man with his arm stretched out and as I stood looking at it this little girl came over, put her arm straight out like the man in the statue and yelled “Superman!”  I couldn’t help but start laughing.  Ahhh the benefits of innocence.

It’s too bad we don’t just have children determine the outcome of wars.  They would say, “why are you all fighting, why don’t you all just eat pizza and ice cream and play Wii all day instead…”

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