You may or may not already be riding the K-pop wave and gotten totally K-razy over the all singing all dancing mega groups coming out of Korea: think EXO, 2NE1, Super Junior, global phenomena PSY and my new personal favourite Bigbang with the phenomenal G-DRAGON .
Whether you are already a Hallyu (한류) follower or not there are some places that you need to visit in Korea to get in touch with and grow your ‘fangirl’ side to appreciate this musical phenomenon. I have to admit that before this trip to Korea I was more of a Gangnam style dance floor hits kind of person but I have now fully fallen in love and am now proudly following the k-wave.
I started my journey with a red carpet experience at the Grevin Wax Museum in Seoul. Alongside the usual suspects (US President Obama, The Queen, George Cloony & Brad Pitt) you will also find a host of K stars in their ‘Hallyuwood’ (their name not ours!). Meet and greet stars from popular dramas and even have the opportunity to take your seat on a chat show sofa to interact with some of the stars before wondering off the red carpet and onto the international sports field. What’s different from other wax museums is that the Grévin museums promise entertainment, and they certainly deliver. Not only can you pose alongside worldwide stars but you can interact with them too; from playing roulette with the Oceans 11 cast to riding through the starry sky with ET or piloting Air Force One, you can do it here.
Entry into Grévin Wax Museum costs 23,000 W per adult, 18,000 W for students (ages 13-18), 15,000 W for children (ages 3-12), and 15,WKRW for seniors (ages above 65). Children under 3 get in free accompanied by an adult. Operating Hours: Open Daily: 10am-6pm.
How to get there: City Hall Station (Seoul Subway Line 1,2), Exit 6. Walk straight for 5 min. Or, Euljiro 1-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exit 1. Walk straight for 3 min.
Next up on the wave, dive into the K-pop concert world with a 30 minute K-pop showcase hologram concert at K-LIVE. Conveniently located to break up a shopping and eating fest in Dongdaemun on the 9 & 10th floor of Lotte FitIn, dance yourself silly (it’s a pretty dark room if you are shy) to the K-LIVE concert with stars such as G-DRAGON, Bigbang, PSY & 2NE1.
The 270° performance will captivate you with its interactive elements (be prepared for your face to be used as a backing dancer) and make you feel as though you are almost at a real concert. At 33,000 W its one of the most pricey activities you can do in Seoul for the time you spend there but if you are a big fan this might be as close to the real thing as you can get!
Concerts can be viewed at 30 minute intervals from 2-10pm Tuesday- Sunday. How to get there: Located on floors 9 and 10 of Lotte FitIn. Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (Lines 2, 4, and 5) exits 11 and 12 (connected by underground path). If you go to the K-LIVE centre at dusk you can get a pretty cool view from the balcony by the cafe inside.
If you want to the biggest chance to run into the stars* (my personal highlight of this K-tour) head to MBC World just out of Seoul City Centre. Visit 3 difference sections of this ‘world’ packed with photo opportunities and interaction zones using the latest technology to bring the stars to life before your eyes. From hanging on the sofa with your favourite singer and having him lie on your lap, performing with your favourite girl band to getting cheeky bed shots with a movie star (you need to go there to see how) you will be entertained for a full morning or afternoon.
I was lucky enough to ‘run’ into Yoo Jae Suk of running man fame at the coffee shop in MBC world. Nicked named ‘MC of the nation’ he certainly was tolerant of the sudden excitement at the quiet corner of the studios whilst I managed to get a snap of him before his entourage tried to calm us down J If you are a big fan, maybe research the when your favourite star is being interviewed or filming a series at the centre and try and spot them (but not in a stalkerish sense…).
*we can’t guarantee that you will see/meet one, although we would love to be able to promise it!
My final stop on the starry tour took me from stage to screen as I visited one of the most romantic places in Korea… where Do Min-jun and Cheon Song-yi from My Love from the Star had their first kiss in Petit France. I took some time to wonder around this beautiful French themed village in the foothills of the rolling countryside of the Gyeonggi-do region just to be transported to somewhere that could be in the Mediterranean or The Piedmont Alps. From is cafes to halls and galleries this little village will captivate you. My visit in the winter time was particularly enjoyable with all the festive decorations and lights twinkling as dusk set, and of course that cool wintery breeze offset by the hot chocolate I sipped looking out over the nearby lake. Entry into Petit France is 8,000 W for adults and is open from 9am- 6pm. If you are driving to this area combine your trip to nearby Nami Island and The Garden of Morning Calm to make the most of your day. You can book an hotel room in nearby Chunchon from only $70, located just on the edge of the Gangwon region. Spend the evening relaxing and eating at the famed ‘Chicken Street’. For more information on visiting Nami Island and surrounds visit our special site about visiting Gangwon.
Fans of My Love from the Star can take a dedicated tour from Seoul visiting Petit France among a host of other filming locations including the N Seoul Tower and Namsan Hanok Village. The tours guide will share all their insider knowledge and gossip from the show as well as help you create cool photos where the characters pursued their romance ending the day at Palm Piano Restaurant where you can tuck into the shows signature combo of fried chicken and beer (maekju) together called chimac. The tour can be booked online in advance (to guarantee your place) at CheapTickets.sg now for only $162.
To get information on where to visit and how to get there in Korea download the ‘Visit Korea’ App now. Plus until 15 January 2016 redeem a $30 discount on all return flights from Singapore Korea, book now! Get the download links and your discount code now at www.CheapTickets.sg/korea#promo