One thing I love about traveling to South Korea is to experience its culture first-hand because that’s one of the best things you can ever take away from the country. And by culture, I meant both the traditional and contemporary pertaining to all aspects of the “K” element, ranging from K-Pop, K-Food, K-Travel and the list goes on.
Though I’ve personally been to South Korea several times prior to this trip, I had the opportunity to pick up some skills this time and experience various hands-on activities that brought me closer to the heart of Korea.
My recent trip to Korea was kindly hosted by the Korea Tourism Organization Singapore (KTO Singapore) under the K-Pop International Fan Network Event, so attending K-Pop concerts was definitely part of the itinerary which was naturally what I look forward to the most.
As one of the representatives from Singapore, I was joined by people from different countries and cities. It was a pretty packed schedule — long hours of bus rides, traveling to a different city each day, waking up before the sun rises, etc, but all these aside, the trip was made memorable with new friendships that were forged through our common passion: K-Pop and all things Korea.
While in Seoul, we made a visit to Seoullo 7017, one of the newer landmarks that opened to the public in May this year. It was pretty quiet at the time of visit (afternoon), but when the sun sets and sky darkens, the attraction was instantly lit up which was a beautiful sight to see. I’ve always wanted to visit here because it was featured in one of the recent Running Man episodes (Ep. 356) this year.
Fun fact: Before Seoullo 7017 was opened to the public, it used to be a highway overpass. The road was transformed to create a new pedestrian walking experience which now houses cafes, gardens, an information centre, gift shop, trampoline park and more.
Getting here: Easily accessible from Seoul Station (Line 1 & 4, Exit 2 or 8), Hoehyeon Station (Line 4, Exit 4) or Chungjeongno Station (Line 1, Exit 5)
During the trip, I also experienced learning how to play a Janggu (traditional Korean drum) at the Jeongdong Theater, used to be known as Wongaksa before its restoration. It’s the first modern theater in Korea which today features some of Korea’s well-acclaimed productions, traditional arts’ performances and exhibitions.
Anyway, I never knew the art of Korean traditional music and how it could sound so appealing until I stepped into the theater and picked up some skills. Truly impressed!
Fun fact: Highlight members are the current ambassadors of the Jeongdong Theater as they work towards globalising and promoting the Korean traditional performing arts scene in and out of Korea.
Getting here: City Hall Station (Line 1 & 2, Exit 12) — Follow the stonewall path along Deoksugung Palace and you’ll be able to see the Jeongdong Theater on your right.
We were given a tour at the K-Style Hub which houses a tourist information center, Korean food exhibition hall, Korean food experience hall and cultural product hall over four levels. I did visited here once on my own a few years ago to pick up some travel brochures and get my questions answered about some places in Korea, but I’ve never really explored the hub, let alone experiencing the facilities available there.
On the second level, there is always someone ready to assist at the information desk and let me tell you how useful they are when it comes to planning your own trip in Korea. You can get all the directional information to wherever you want to visit in Korea and this is especially helpful if you intend to travel to the less explored areas and couldn’t find much information online. Best of all, they have staff who are able to assist in English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean, so that’s another plus point to ease the communication flow.
Besides the information desk, there’s also a Hallyu experience corner (where you get to snap virtual photos with your favourite celebrities), medical tourism zone (do a facial analysis, check your stress level, or even find out what’s the medicinal tea that suits you best — all for free!), 360-degree virtual tour of Korea (featuring over 40 major attractions) through the VR gear, and more.
Head up to the third level and you’ll find yourself at the grand entrance to the Korean Food (Hansik) Exhibition Hall which is decorated with 24 windows on Korea’s seasonal food.
This is where you can immerse yourself in the exhibits and displays, and find out more about the science of food fermentation and storage.
The fourth level is interesting because this is where visitors get to experience cooking both the traditional and contemporary Korean cuisine and tasting what they have prepared thereafter. There is a list of cuisines to choose for the cooking experience program and the fee varies from there. Popular choices include Dakjjim (spicy braised chicken with noodles and vegetables), Samgyetang (Ginseng chicken soup), Tteok-mandu-guk (rice cake and dumpling soup) and more.
We had a go at preparing the Bulgogi (stir-fried beef) and seasoned Mung Bean Sprouts and the process was unexpectedly simpler than I thought. It was a lot of fun for sure, definitely recommended for those who want to seek for an authentic experience in Korea.
Finally, the fifth level of the building consists of mainly exhibition zones for premium cultural products as well as a hanbok experience section and an event area (to experience cultural festivals and the upcoming 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics). Why pay to rent a hanbok when you can dress in one for free here?
All in all, K-Style Hub is like a one-stop complex where you can experience a variation of Korea’s culture and walk home feeling fulfilled and enriched.
Admission to K-Style Hub: Free (Participation fee applies for cooking classes, where advanced reservation is required)
Opening Hours: (2F) 9am to 8pm daily / (3F-5F) 10am to 8pm daily / *Hanbok Experience: 10am to 6pm daily
Address: KTO Seoul Office 2F-5F, 40, Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
Getting here: Jonggak Station (Line 1, Exit 5) or Euljiro 1(il)-ga Station (Line 2, Exit 2)
I often visit Korea for work and leisure, and there are just so much to explore in each city. Trust me, it is a lot more fun when you plan your trip to experience more of the diverse culture there instead of just shopping and sightseeing. This includes attending a K-pop concert too! After all, when in Korea. 😀
This trip was kindly hosted by Korea Tourism Organization Singapore under the ‘K-Pop International Fan Network Event’.
(Article & Photos: Meixian)
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You can call her a k-drama guru 😉