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Experience [email protected], Seoul Sky, Changdeokgung, Gwangjang Market & MBC World

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Have you visited all these places in Seoul yet?

For the coming PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games (9 February to 25 February), I had the pleasure to be invited by Korean Tourism Organization (KTO) to South Korea from 29 November to 3 December 2017 on Wow PyeongChang fam trip, together with 12 fun-loving participants from eight countries across the world.

For the itinerary, we took some time to visit Gangwon province, where PyeongChang, Gangneung and Jeongseon are the host cities of the coming Olympic Games. We also spent 3 fruitful days in Seoul, where we were treated with experiences for us to keep you up-to-date, especially if you are planning for your next Korea trip.

After returning from Gangwon to Seoul on the 4th day of our itinerary, we went to Myeongdong for our shopping spree before we went proper with the next destination.

SMTOWN COEX Artium

Entrance of SMTOWN COEX Artium

By now, this place should be very familiar to K-pop fans. COEX Artium is exactly where [email protected] is located, the home of SM Entertainment. It is a must-visit place for K-pop fans as we know SM is undeniably one of the forefront pioneers for bringing Korean wave out of South Korea to the rest of the world with its top leading K-pop groups such as Super Junior, Girls’ Generation, SHINee and EXO.

SHINee standees displayed at 2F of SMTOWN COEX Artium

SMTOWN COEX Artium offers highly engaging entertainment space full of various experiences with SM entertainment K-idols. And to be honest, it is never too much to visit SMTOWN COEX Artium over and over again as there is always something new to look out for.

From the moment we stepped into the building, we were greeted by SM stars’ posters all over the wall along the escalator. Yes, we were instantly whisked into the K-pop world.

Directional signs inside SMTOWN COEX Artium

On the 2nd floor, there is the celebrity shop where fans can buy all types of authentic artist products, from CD albums, posters, stickers, to soft toys, notepads and more.

Entrance of SMTOWN Studio

SMTOWN studio is located at the 3rd floor, where you can tour the vocal and dance training room, recording room and music video studio, experiencing the life of a K-pop artist.

Here’s what you can expect in a typical K-pop dance class at SMTOWN Studio:

Moving on, the 4th floor is where the cafe and market are located. You can also learn the history of SMTOWN and appreciate the past trophies neatly showcased to the general public.

Past trophies of SM artists showcased to the general public

You can also try out various beverages and desserts that are themed by our well-loved SM K-pop artists.

Probably they would look so nice that you wouldn’t even want to eat them!

Entrance of SMTOWN Theatre

On the 5th floor, check out SMTOWN theatre where you can watch floating hologram performance, plus you can even make figurines of your favorite stars using 3D printing technique.

A recap video of what you can see in SMTOWN COEX Artium:

Address: 513, Yeongdong-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 강남구 영동대로 513 (삼성동)

 

Lotte World Tower Seoul Sky

Next, we moved to the tallest building in South Korea, which is also the world’s fifth tallest building.

Photo of Lotte World Tower Seoul Sky

Seoul Sky is an observatory located from the 117th floor to 123rd floor of Lotte World Tower. In addition to the panoramic view of the capital city, it also has a Sky Deck of two storey-high glass windows for unblocked viewing that currently holds the Guinness World Record as the highest glass-floored observatory in the world.

Looking down at the reinforced glass of the Sky Deck

There are cafes where visitors can enjoy sipping coffee at the top of the world, as well as gift shops to purchase souvenirs that are themed with Seoul Sky.

Furthermore, there are also various media kiosks available that visitors can interact with, such as this kiosk which can record a short video clip of you together with the animated version of Seoul Sky. This is what we did on the other day – check it out!

Address: 300, Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 송파구 올림픽로 300 (신천동)

 

Changdeokgung Palace

On the 5th day, sadly most of the participants began to depart Korea back to their home country. But to make the best of our time in the country, the rest of us continued to complete the itinerary program before our scheduled flights.

A pillar outside Changdeokgung Palace

For the first stop, we visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Changdeokgung Palace.

Photo taken outside of Changdeokgung Palace

When we talk about palace attractions in Korea, most of us would probably be familiar with Gyeongbokgung Palace only, especially the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony, which is a good opportunity to witness the rare traditional scene that used to be observed in the past. However, Changdeokgung Palace has its own cultural beauty too, with our guide revealing that most foreigners who have visited both palaces said they prefer this palace rather than Gyeongbokgung Palace.

The map of Changdeokgung Palace

So Changdeokgung Palace was actually the second royal villa which was built after Gyeongbukgung Palace in 1405. It served as the primary palace for many kings of the Joseon Dynasty.

Changdeokgung Palace was in fact burned down by angry citizens in 1592 after the royal family fled from the Japanese invasion but subsequently restored in 1610. The palace again was destroyed by fire in 1917. Full restoration work began in 1991, and is still underway.

Despite all the damages done to the palace in the past, Changdeokgung Palace is still the most well-preserved of the five remaining royal palaces of the last dynasty in Korea. With rich history and cultural significance to Korea, Changdeokgung Palace is one of the top attractions in South Korea that visitors should visit.

Address: 99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 종로구 율곡로 99 (와룡동)

 

Gwangjang Market

Known as the first permanent market in Korea established since 1905, Gwangjang Market is one of the ultimate markets to experience traditional Korean street foods and culture today.

Photo taken at Gwangjang Market

Upon entering the massive market, there were mounds of food and hungry people everywhere.

Photo taken at Gwangjang Market

There is no lack of Korean street foods in Gwangjang Market, such as Soondae (blood sausage), mayak gimbap (rice rolls), tteokbokki (rice rolls) and particularly bindaetteok (mung bean pancake) which is the most famous in the market throughout Seoul. We ate that of course, together with tteokbokki ~ totally daebak!

Address: 88, Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 종로구 창경궁로 88 (예지동)

 

MBC World

With time ticking away fast, we were about to end Wow PyeongChang fam trip with our final destination – MBC World.

Operated by one of Korea’s major broadcasting companies, MBC World is the country’s first hallyu theme park that offers hologram K-pop concerts, virtual reality drama sets, noraebang house, and many more unique experiences. And it even has its own retail souvenir outlet called MBC Brand Store.

Upon arrival at MBC World, the very first thing that caught our attention was those many palm prints of famous actors and actresses on the pavement towards the direction of MBC World.

Here’s a gallery of some stars’ palm prints which you can expect to find:

The main attractions include experience zones where visitors can experience on stage with K-pop stars in a holographic form, sing together with G-Dragon, make your debut as a news anchor on MBC Newsdesk or become the main character of your favorite K-drama.

MBC Newsdesk where one takes the role of news anchor, while the other as a presenter

The possibilities of interaction are basically endless for K-wave fans.

Posing photo in W – Two Worlds set

Be sure to spare enough time for you to explore MBC World if you are including the theme park as part of your itinerary. And don’t forget, the other broadcasting companies like SBS, YTN, CJ E&M Center and JTBC are also nearby. You might want to take some time to wander around. Who knows who you might bump into ~

Address: 267, Seongam-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 마포구 성암로 267 (상암동)

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This article is presented for 2017 Wow PyeongChang fam trip, invited by Korean Tourism Organization (KTO). Special thanks to KTO staff Miss Lim Nam Hee, Miss Jinny Kim and Miss Jenny Oh.

Reporting by Adrian Cheng

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