Seoul Day 13 – Last Day In Seoul 😢

Today we tried to fit in some of the things from our TODO list we hadn’t yet. First up, Dragon Hill Spa! We wanted to check out a spa and this one is known to be friendly to tourists, and also had some game areas so we could do Noraebang.

When you first arrive, you check in at the desk and they give you a bracelet and a set of clothes (shirt and shorts) , this is tied to your account. You go put your shoes in a locker and then walk up to your gender based floor. There you shower, put your clothes and decide what you want to do. You can go eat at a few places, sit and watch tv, go to the movie room, go play games, go to several saunas, there are theme rooms, like a salt room, coal room, where you lay down and relax on mats. There is a massage area where you can purchase massages which were very affordable. Their pool was under maintenance so we couldn’t do that. We got massages, relaxed in the rooms fora while, did norabang, then went and had lunch. It was a nice relaxing few hours

After the SPA, we headed to Seongsu-dong  and went to the Tiger Wall from the NCT 127 Regular music video. The neighborhood is really cool, it was a leather business district, so there are still shops selling those things, and inside the Subway there is a mini museum of the garmet business of the area. After the tiger wall (photo ops!) we walked over to Cafe Onion, which is a really trendy cafe in a rustic bare walls aestetic. I got a dragonfruit-ade, everything we tried was so yummy!

After all this, we were like ‘Hey what now?, how about an amusement park?’ So … we took the subway back over to Lotte World and went to the Amuseument park there. Dree purchased tickets online and it was a pain to find the entrance to redeem them at. Anyway, we have seen Kpop idols and actors on shows go to Lotte World so it seemed like a good idea to go visit. It’s kind of mandatory to get headbands, so that is what we did. Then we went around and got our bearings and rode some of the rides. I liked the virtual reality rides the best. Atlantis was so scary!!!

We rode this hot air balloon ride, that went around the interior of the Lotte world and I took a picture of the couple in front of us (and we rode with them) because they were so pretty/handsome and were cute together.

Once we got home, we were ready to start packing and but also needed some food, guess what our last meal was. 🤦‍♀️Delivery pizza. We had such a good experience with the previous pizza we had, we decided to try it from a chain (Pizza Hut) . Then while they were making it, we were able to dart into the beauty supply and market and get our last items we needed for our departure. it had potatoes on it. It was good, not as good as the one at COEX, but it taste completely different from the pizza in the US.

Heading Home

My Simply Kpop Experience

Travel Tips – Seoul
How to go on a music show – Simply Kpop
There are multiple ways to get on one of the popular Music Shows in Seoul, there is a different one every day of the week. I went on The Show, Mnet Countdown and Simply Kpop.
• Sunday – Inkigayo
Monday – Simply Kpop
• Tuesday – The Show
• Wednesday – Show Champion
• Thursday – Mnet Countdown
• Friday – Music Bank
• Saturday – Music Core
Simply Kpop was quite different than other shows. It is not shown live, and they film the segments throughout the day, often enough for 2 separate shows. (atleast while we were there).
They only film once every 2 weeks, so you need to know when that day is. I followed their online board (http://www.arirang.com/Tv2/Tv_Announce.asp…) and also them on twitter (@_SimplyKpop). When the filming date for our show opened up, it was on a Friday before the Monday showing, so you get only a little time. The posting will include all of the lineups for that day with the time. You then send in an email for the time/performance you want to attend. If they accept you, you will get a response with directions. I added in that my daughter and I were visiting from Seattle, and I guess this was enough for them to ask us to be interviewed guests on the show. So, I suggest you put something interesting in your email if you want to be chosen for that guest spot. We got our email response on Sunday with directions how to get there on Monday.
The Arirang Studio is in the Seocho-gu, area of Seoul. There are 3 different subway stop you can take, we took a subway, a short bus ride to the TV Studio and a cab home since it ended after midnight and public transportation had stopped by then. When we arrived we saw a bunch of people out front, but previous online accounts said I should bypass those people and go to a security guard (or someone that looks official) so that is what we did. We checked in and they found us on the list, then we got in line. A few minutes later a lady came up who spoke English and asked if we were Christine and Andrea. She said she wanted us to be interviewed on the show. I don’t know her exact role so I’ll just call her the Director since we spent all our time interacting with her before and during the show. After our initial excitement and agree to do the show, we interacted with her a few more times, she would ask us some questions we would be asked, and we’d give her the answer we would give.
When it was time, they escorted us inside the building, down a back hall and then we waited a few minutes until they escorted us into the studio. There is not real audience. There is a low stage that is used for filming the performances and they set up 3-4 rows of steps for us to sit on. The performances here are kinda better than any of the other shows. They singed live and it felt like they were performing just for us in our living room. It was so up close and personal. After each performance, they hang out, and can wave/chat/play around with the fans the camera people are reviewing the performance. If it isn’t good enough, they ask them to perform again. When done they will go off stage and go change and return for a 2nd performance a bit later.
If you go to the night show with the MC’s (In this case Kevin and Jacob from the Boyz) then that is where the interviews are with the selected guests, and they do the intro portion and the middle portion where they read the emails/tweets from fans.
During the segment where they interview the selected guest(s) they practice and film it a few times until its good then you say goodbye and they continue the filming of the musical acts. Kevin and Jacob hi-5’d us before they left and they were seriously so darn nice and easy to talk to.
In the beginning of us sitting with them, we learned they do a foreign greeting at the beginning and end, and they were being coached on German sayings, anyone who knows me, knows I used to live in Germany so i took over the coaching and instructed Kevin on the right way to say Guten Tag and Auf Weidersehen. He asked the director later if we could say it with him at the end because he couldn’t say it that well. She agreed so we did. it was really cute chatting with him. Kevin is from Vancouver, which is just a few hours north of Seattle so we chatted about Seattle and he said went to Seattle to audition for a kpop show and we chatted about that for a bit.
After the show, they walk you out and you’re good to go. If after midnight, the only transportation running are some of the late night bus routes which would have taken us a long time to get home – so we took a cab and it was less than $20. If you think you’ll get out late, write down your address of where you need to go so even if you and the cabbie can’t communicate very well, he can recognize your address. Maybe also include a Subway station so at worse case, you could get that far.
When the show airs, you may be on either or both episodes. They showed us in the next episode too as part of the audience. Best part of this experience, the show is free, and we got a really amazing up close experience with the hosts and the artists.
We saw each of these artists perform atleast twice.. The Boyz, Kim Dong Han, A train to Autumn and Walwari.

Seoul Day 11

We started out the day heading to Dongdaemun Design plaza and checking out the clothing markets and look for a suitcase for our Seoul purchases. Wow this area is nuts, I just can’t do these cramped warm markets full of multi-levels of clothes!

We then went over to Doota Mall, which looks like the place a KPOP IDOL would shop. All the name brands we see them wear. We had some breakfast and bought some t-shirts. On the 5th floor we found a BTS coffee vending area. SO COOL!

We then went back over to Myeongdong. We decided this was the day we would go in some of the beauty stores and buy some products. Warning… the salespeople are pushy. They stand outside the stores and try to get your to let them put lotion on you, or take a face mask and then get insulted if you say no or don’t want to go in. I really didn’t know that much about skincare at the time or what brand I wanted, so I just let my gut direct me. We ended up liking the vibe and salespeople at Etude House so we bought all our stuff there.

After we went back and rested up for a while, we headed over to the Han to explore the area a bit before going to where we were going to attend Simply K-POP (Seocho-gu). We took a long walk along the South side of the Han and saw some traditional drummers, fisherman, the work out park, people riding bikes. Its very scenic. If I lived there, I think I would use the area alot. At the end of the walk we found a neat convenience store that overlooked the Han. There was a wine bar, reading area and food. Right down the road across the bridge we were able to catch the subway.

We went to Seocho-gu, and had some food, then hung out in a 2 Someplace (I wasn’t impressed tbh) then took the bus over to the Arirang Studios for Simply Kpop.

We arrived, checked in and while waiting in line the PD came over to ask if we would want to be the guests interviewed by Kevin and Jacob from the BOYZ. We started to freak out a bit, as they are one of our favorite groups and getting to talk to them in person would be amazing!

I have a whole write up on the experience, check it out!

On to Day 12

Seoul Day 9

Day 9 – (Saturday, May 11th) Begin of week 2!

We decided to start using our Seoul Pass today so went over to SM TOWN @ COEX. Before hitting the museum and starting our pass time, we went through all the shops and took pictures of everything.

When you first arrive at the desk, they let you pick out which pass you want. Each one has different SM groups with different concepts. Once you get your pass, you hang it around your neck and you are on your way! If you are a fan of all the groups, it will take you a while to get through the museum. We took our time and probably spent 3-4 hours. We looked at everything, did all the interactive displays, and watched all the videos they had for you to watch. You could watch the SM TOWN backstage videos, the NCT audition tapes, and there was a cool EXO video room. There are some dance rooms, recording studios and the iconic room with the red lockers that SM Rookies and NCT groups have filmed content at. The red lockers each had a person assigned to them, and inside was their Black on Black outfits for that member. Throughout the museum you could see outfits from different iconic videos as well, like Super Junior “Mamasita” and NCT 127 “Firetruck”.

Red Lockers and Black on Black Outfits – NCT

Recording Hall area

SM Rookie Auditions and Pre-Debut

Dressing Room Area

At the end of the museum, is a photo service desk. They have ipads you go and peruse through the photos and you can get them printed out in a variety of sizes. This is also the desk you order copies of any interactive booths you did.

If you go to the top floor, kind of hidden away are some interactive areas. You can do more hologram pictures, and you go to see the members ‘hands’ cast, and you can do a match up of yourself and a member as seen below. First picture is who you selected against you, and based on your hands, how well you are a match. Then it tells you in the next picture, who is your best SM partner, and the 3rd photo is your selected member Astrology match. Just for fun!

After that we refreshed at the SM Cafe, took photos and went to COEX Aquarium. This was a fun aquarium but not nearly as big as some others I’ve been to. Since it was Saturday night, there were not that many kids either, so we had it almost to ourselves. I think if it was not part of our Seoul Pass we would have skipped it.

After the Aquarium we ate at Devil’s Door, which was pricey but really good. Their salad and beer was good, but their pizza was life changing!!!

Next page for the Coex Aquarium visit.

For more photos of different groups, I made a page for each.

NCT

EXO

Shinee

other

Travel Tips – Seoul Pass

How to make the Seoul Pass work for you.

Most major cities have a citypass type deal where you pay an amount, get a card, and for a set amount of time, you can go popular (and some not so popular) attractions for free or discount. You can easily pay for the pass and not get your moneys worth. This is why you have to do your homework first. I’ve made it work for me in Paris and London. You need to at a minimum break even, but then as a plus, you can tack on some places you maybe would not want to spend money at if you were to pay full price, and check it out.

For Seoul. We knew we wanted to do SM Town, SM Theatre, Namsan Tower, the Hanbok experience, Leeum Museum of Art and maybe the Coex Aqarium. We ended up not doing the Theatre since they were only doing a musical and not the normal SM artist engagements. We figured we would break even after one day and the 2nd day would be a bonus so purchased the 48 hour pass. It starts once you attend your first ‘free’ attraction – So if you start at 2pm on day one, you can use it into day 3 until 2pm.

So here is the normal costs. You can get discounted prices online and other websites like Klook and Trazy but we’ll just go with the at the window prices for comparison.

Day 1 –

SM TOWN – 18,000 WON

Coex Aqarium – 28,000 WON

Day 2 –

Namsan Tower observation deck elevator 10,000 WON

Namsan Tower hanbok cultural experience 18,000 WON

Leeum Museum of Art – 10,000 WON

Day 3 –

Gyeongbokgung Palace -3,000 WON

===87,000 WON is what these attractions would have cost, the Seoul pass cost us $43.50 which is probably around 50,000 won.

We also got a discount at Lotte Tower since all of the discounts from the card are usable even after your time is up. I found out later we could have used the pass on our trip to the airport on the train for 1 free trip too.

In addition, you can buy the card discounted than the published price – we got ours on Trazy. The BTS one was being advertised but it was only a 24 hour pass, and we wanted the 48. It doesn’t matter to me what the picture is on the card 😊

Travel Tips – Mnet Countdown

There are multiple ways to get on one of the popular Music Shows in Seoul, there is a different one every day of the week.  I went on The Show, Mnet Countdown and Simply Kpop.

  • Sunday – Inkigayo
  • Monday – Simply Kpop
  • Tuesday – The Show
  • Wednesday – Show Champion
  • Thursday – Mnet Countdown
  • Friday – Music Bank
  • Saturday – Music Core

Most of these have pre-tapings that involve being in fan clubs and getting in by meeting ‘fan club’ criteria. This seems very time consuming, so we went with the ‘audience’ route where you can see all of the artists who are performing live. On to tickets. Mnet Countdown tickets are sold via SM’s travel website (https://global.smtowntravel.com/ ). They sell often sell out within a few hours, so you should sign up for email alerts a few months in advance and get an idea of when they normally release the ticket sells for the month.

MNET COUNTDOWN is at CJ E&M Center Studio, which is about a 10 min walk from the Subway at DMC (Digital Media City). Its very easy to find. (they are right next door to SBS PRISM Tower where the Show is filmed.  Their directions to find the person in charge is pretty accurate. When you go in, you will walk past a lot of people hanging outside hoping to catch views of the performers, also there is a roped off area inside the lobby for photographers. Walk past them to a counter (back right area). When we went, there were 3 lines and you had to kinda ask around to know which one to get in. One was for Japanese, one for Chinese and one for English speakers. This way, you have a person accompanying you the entire night who speaks that language. Our group leader was really cool and we talked to him a lot. Make sure you have your email confirmation and your passport.  They will then check you in and give you a numbered wrist band. The group leaders will do rock/paper/scissors to decide which group goes in first, this determines where you will stand. There is a lot of waiting around for this show so be warned. Once everyone is checked in, they will give you a mini-tour outside the building, and everyone will line up again in order of check-in. I think we all met up again around 5 pm and waited in line for a while. The artists use the public bathrooms right next to where we wait so you will likely see many of them walk by (I did).

Once it is time, the group leaders will walk everyone up several flights of stairs to the studio, they will remind you once again do not take out your phone. Even though they said this multiple time, people still had them out in the audience and had to be scolded. They will throw you out. There was a girl who was almost thrown out while we were waiting, they made her delete her video. Then during the show, a girl was escorted out after she was caught filming. We were all taken outside the studio and sat down on the floor in rows for a very long time. I think an hour. (so wear comfortable clothes you don’t mind sitting on the floor in)

The show starts at 6:30 and we were taken in right before. Maybe this is due to the fact we were the standing audience and they didn’t want to make us stand until right before the show started. Oh yeah, we got a gift bag with stickers and pens, I got a free EXO bag and they handed out some WannaOne (left overs I’m sure) electric fans that were needed as it was getting pretty warm. We also got to be pretty good friends with the ladies in line next to us, they were from Australia. We hugged at the end of the night!

The studio has the stage front and center, then the standing audience. We were the 2nd group so we were pretty much the 2nd line of the standing audience, and we were about 5’ from the stage, so we had a fantastic view of each group. Once people lined up, of course there were ones in the back trying to push their way forward, so some people had to be put in their place.  Since I was in the front this time, I did not see how the entire thing worked, it looks like they had the MC’s In in the back like at the Show, but I didn’t see any seats. They also did not have as many cameras. I didn’t see the MC’s for this show until the end when they came on stage to announce the show’s winner (which was Nu’est 1st win) so they did an encore performance. The MC’s for this show were Lee Daehwi (WannaOne, AB6ix) and Han Hyunmin (runway model). Everyone was going crazy for Daehwi and we had seen Hyunmin at the Fashion Festival that previous weekend walking the runway so it was fun to see him again!

For some reason at the end, the standing audience got a bit crazy and pushed a lot and almost knocked us down, my backpack flew outside the roped off area and security came up. I really don’t know who they were going after. I also think some girls were sneaking filming behind their banners… sigh. Once it all calmed down, the show was over, we left and escorted out. It was the most tiring of the shows we attended.