In today’s post, I’ll be showing you around the various Korean broadcasting stations (MBC, SBS, KBS), Korea’s very own walk of fame, as well as the shopping highlights of university districts Hongdae and Edae! This is one of the parts I’ve been excited to write about, because the Korean entertainment industry is the main reason why I fell in love with Korea and its culture, and the ever trendy Hongdae (and its many backpacker hostels) is the ultimate hangout for youths and travellers alike.
This is just a teaser for the rest of this post, click below to find out more!
Digital Media City
Getting there: Myeongdong Station –> Seoul Station (Airport Railroad Line) –> Digital Media City Station (Exit 2)
Take Bus 7711 or 7730 at the bus stop opposite the road from Exit 2, and alight at Nuridream Square or DMC Gallery bus stop (4/5 stops)
Some of you might recognise this 2-headed statue from Korean dramas or variety shows; this was one of the first things we saw once we alighted the bus. If you see this, you’re headed in the right direction, the broadcasting stations are just a 5 minute walk away from here!
The CJ E&M Center is where a few radio shows are taped, though nothing was happening there as we visited on a Saturday. 😦
There are quite a few things to do in Digital Media City, from tours of the broadcasting stations to watching live-tapings of shows. If you plan in advance, you should be able to reserve tickets for live show tapings, or visit the MBC World Broadcasting Theme Park.
When I caught sight of the exterior of the famous MBC building, my excitement level was off the charts! This was the very place that many of the celebrities we know and love work and film at, so it was really surreal to be standing on the same ground as they had.
Any K-variety fan would recognise this statue; a lot of variety shows have filmed their episode openings in front of this very unique installation! It’s also been featured in some K-dramas, though I can’t for the life of me remember which ones (cos I’ve watched too many :P).
Even more hysteria-inducing were the ‘Walk of Fame’-esque stars in the Digital Media City’s Starpark, which were scattered all across the pavement between the SBS and MBC buildings.There were a few hundred stars; take your time to find the stars you want to take pictures with, but also don’t get dizzy from walking while looking down at the floor. I was being judged by so many passers-by as I ran around looking for my favourite idols/celeb’s stars to take pictures with, but it was totally worth it!
For fellow MuDo/Infinity Challenge addicts, you’ll certainly recognise the inside of MBC, with it’s glossy glass elevators and minimalist interior decoration. Of course we couldn’t enter, but it was still fascinating to be able to take a peek into the MuDo cast’s workplace!
If you’re not going to make a trip to this area, then I hope you’ll be able to visit it vicariously through these pictures.
The stretch of pavement below might look familiar if you’ve watched enough Running Man. The first thing that came to mind as I walked down this path was ‘Didn’t Gary run down here in flippers??’ and turns out, that entire episode of Running Man was filmed around this area and inside the SBS building!
Since we were here on a Saturday, Inkigayo was being taped and there were hordes of fans gathered opposite the building where the idol’s waiting rooms (before performing) were. I asked the fans who they were waiting to see, and they said they ASTRO had been spotted waving to them from up in that office building, how cute.
Since the weather was nice, we decided to walk 1+km back to the Digital Media City Station. We passed by this BBQ restaurant on the way back, and it’s been featured in an episode of Infinity Challenge (the one where Myungsoo was selling tornado potatoes)! It wasn’t open that early, so we didn’t have a chance to try it. 😦
Hongdae (Hongik University Shopping)
Getting there: Digital Media City Station –> Hongik University Station (Airport Railroad Line)
Okay so there’s this shop called Butter that I 10000% recommend that you stop by and visit. It’s a haven of quirky stationery, adorable household items (yes, they’re hella cute) and funky home decor. Think of it as a mashup of Daiso and Typo – it’s very affordable and is stocked with very unique items, making it a one-stop souvenir buying destination. Because let’s face it, no one wants traditional Korean keychains when they could get funky plate or dinosaur-shaped erasers (don’t take offence if you happen to like traditional Korean keychains).
You can find this shop underground, connected to Hongik University Station. I spent around $50 and came out with 3 massive bags of goodies for my friends and myself, with purchases ranging from pencil cases and scented soap to wall stickers. There’s another outlet at COEX mall too, which is as big as the Hongdae outlet.
On the street level, there was a lot of walking and many small clothing and accessory stores to weave in and out of. The prices were very reasonable and the stores were stocked with all the latest trends. Along the main road were the chain stores like H&M, Bershka, ABC Mart (a big shoe shop) and some sporting brands. We took around 3 hours to clear all the shopping here.
I tried the famous tall ice cream, and it was only 2000 won. It was really good (tasted a bit like froyo) and there were so many flavours to choose from! And in the pic below I’m wearing a baby blue snapback with bananas printed all over it; I got it from a stall in Hongdae for just 5000 won!! #bargainhunteralert
The busking scene there was extremely lively, with many indie musicians and even wannabe magicians taking to the streets during weekends to perform. The atmosphere was really chill and most of the shoppers were either Korean youths or foreigners.
We chanced upon a Hello Kitty cafe while exploring the smaller streets, as well as a lot of quaint cafes and bars. There are definitely a lot of hidden gems in these smaller alleys, so if you have the luxury of time and enough energy to walk, go ahead and explore the whole area and tell if you find any cool places! 🙂
If you’re into clubbing, there’s no shortage of (literally) underground clubs that open in the evening and stay open till the wee hours. Hongdae is known for having the wildest clubs in Seoul, though I personally didn’t have the chance to go during this trip. The cover charges and alcohol prices in Seoul are also lower than in Singapore, so take your chance to party while you’re there!
Edae (Ewha Womans University Shopping)
* It’s really Ewha Womans University, not Women’s, how ungrammatical!
Getting there: Hongik University Station (Line 2) –> Sinchon Station (Line 2)
Edae’s shopping district stretches from Sinhcon Station to Ewha Station, so you can start at either end, depending on which is nearer. I’d recommend starting at Sinchon, because the shopping there is far better than at the Ewha side. It’s more modern and the stuff sold is trendier, plus all the shops are located close together (in the Sinchon shopping area) so there’s less walking involved.
There was busking here as well, and a small flea market along the main road. The main road is closed on weekends so that shoppers can walk freely around the area! We took 2 hours to finish shopping in Sinchon, then we slowly walked in the direction of Ewha Station. We stopped for dinner at a cozy traditional restaurant, and it served the best samgyeopsal (pork belly) I’ve ever tasted. The meat was so soft, and the fat was so buttery it melts in one’s mouth. Paired with the kimchi, dipping sauces and other side dishes, it was a heavenly albeit very filling meal.
We reached Ewha around evening time, and it was far less lively than Sinchon. There were a lot of tour groups in the area, though I have to say that shopping here was nowhere near the standard of Hongdae. The terrain was very hilly and it was tiring to have to walk that much after eating such a filling dinner.
The shops were small and a significant proportion of them were either cosmetic stores or food/snack stalls – the same beauty stores can be found in Myeongdong or any other shopping area, and the snacks smelled nice but one does not simply eat that much food in one sitting.
There were more flea markets and snack stalls as we walked on, and eventually we reached the Ewha Station and took the train back to Myeongdong.
In the next post, I’ll be showing you around Gyeongbokgung Palace and the traditional touristy area of Insadong!