The Hallyu Wave has taken over the world by storm. K-pop fans are everywhere. I don’t understand the song’s lyrics but I can hum to the catchy rhythm. The idols mesmerizing voice, their perfect dance routines, and bright personalities are several of many reasons I love K-pop. Most of the K-pop groups names contain numbers, for example – 2PM, 2AM, 4 Minutes, 2NE1, B1A4, Seventeen (just to mention a few). Hence, here are 9 things every K-pop addict has to do in Seoul!
Quick reference for non-k-pop readers:
Oppa – Korean word use by females to call an older male as brother
Noona – Korean word use by males to call an older female as sister
1. Take a “I was here” photo in front of your favourite K-pop Entertainment Agencies
This is on the must-do list of every K-pop addict. It is compulsory to visit our oppa’s office. The most essential places to visit will be the “big three” agencies.
The “big three” agencies refers to the pioneers of the Hallyu wave, which are SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment. These agencies produce Hallyu big hit songs such as Sorry Sorry by Super Junior, Gangnam Style by Psy and Nobody by Wonder Girls. If you are lucky, you might see your favourite idols at the agencies’ building. However, please do respect their privacy.
#HHWT Tip: You can visit SM Entertainment, JYP Entertainment, FNC and Cube within one day as they are all located within walking distance of each other. You can refer to the map provided and choose whether to visit SME or JYPE first.
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SM Entertainment (SME)
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#1 in terms of profits among other entertainment companies, and home of TVXQ, Girls Generations, Super Junior, Shinee, F(X), EXO and Red Velvet.
Address: 106-16 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Nearest subway station: Apgujeong Rodeo (Bundang Line) Exit 2 (7- minute walk)
FNC Entertainment (FNC)
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Nearby to the SME building is FNC, home of CN Blue, FT Island, AOA.
Address: 111 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
JYP Entertainment (JYPE)
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Home of JYP, Wonder Girls, 2PM, Miss A, Got7, Day6 and Twice.
Address: JYP Centre, 41, 79-gil Apgujeong-ro, Gangnam-gu Seoul
Nearest subway station: Apgujeong Rodeo exit 6 or Cheongdam exit 9 (both less than 10 -minute walk)
#HHWT Tip: Alternatively you can take bus 143 at Apgujeong Rodeo exit 6 and stop at Prima Hotel, where you will see Baskin-Robbins. Just walk up to Cube Entertainment, you definitely will not miss out on JYPE. You will also see a special banner from fan clubs at the entrance if you visit on any birthday or anniversary of JYPE artistes.
Cube Entertainment (CUBE)
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Home of Beast and 4Minute. Unfortunately, Cube is moving out to new premises soon. They have already stopped operating the Cube Café.
Address: LH Building 8 Dosan-daero 89-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Direction: Follow the direction to JYPE.
YG Entertainment (YG)
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Home of Big Bang, 2NE1, Akdong Musical, Epik High, Winner and iKon.
Address: Seoul, Mapo-gu, Hapjeong-dong, 397-5
Nearest subway station: Hapjeong Station exit 8 (8-minute walk)
2. Take a stroll at Gangnam K-Star road
This road will lead you to SM Entertainment. It is located at west Apgujeong Galleria Department. You can find the stores which all K-stars visit frequently there. You will also meet cute teddy bear statues of TVXQ, SNSD, Shinee, EXO, 4minute, Miss A, FT Island, Super Junior, CNBLUE and 2PM.
[Also read: The Ultimate Shopping Guide in Korea]
Nearest subway station: Apgujeong Rodeo (Bundang Line) exit 2
3. Visit SM TOWN at COEX Artium
The COEX Artium has 5 levels which consists of merchandise stores, studios, cafes and theatres of everything related to SM Entertainment. Even a non SM Fan would be impressed by this Artium! And while you’re at in, be sure to get some shopping done at COEX!
For the hologram show and live shows of SM artistes, please refer to this website.
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Theatre: Hologram Musical: 77,000 won
Hologram Concert: 44,000 won
Opening Hours: 11:00am – 10:00pm
Address: 513, Yeongdong-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Nearest subway station: Samseong Exit 6
#HHWT Tip: There’s a new Musollah available at Coex Mall, 3rd Floor.
4. Hang out at a café owned by your idol!
There are a lot of cafés operated by the idol’s families. Here are 2 cafés you can check out while you are going to SM at Apgujeong or shopping at Myeongdong.
The Min’s by 2AM’s Changmin
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This café serves fruit drinks, lattes, cupcakes, meringues and waffles. If you are lucky enough you can even meet Changmin himself at the café. He’s generous with selfies! Don’t come here at 2am as their operation is until 10:00pm only 😜
Address: 330 Apgujeong-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening Hours: Monday- Sunday 10:00 am – 22:00pm
Nearest subway station: Apgujeong Rodeo (Bundang Line) exit 6
Café J Holic by Jaejoong of JYJ
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Jaejoong is one of the Hallyu wave pioneers (just Google DBSK/TVXQ). This café is located at busy Myeongdong Street on the 3rd and 4th floor. You will see Mag & Mag Store on the Ground Floor of the building. The interior is so vibrant and colourful. Plus with every purchase, you will get a receipt with Jaejoong’s autograph. How cool is that?
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Address: 54-22 Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday 11:00 am – 10:00pm
Nearest subway station: Myeongdong exit 6
5. Buy a K-pop original CD at Myeongdong Underground Shopping Centre
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Take a deep breath when you are surrounded by handsome boy groups and beautiful girl groups. It is time to complete your CDs collection. The stores also sell T-Money with K-pop theme. Although you can get the cd at any music stores in Seoul, the price is a bit cheaper at Myeongdong Underground Shopping Centre. There are 2 K-pop stores available.
Nearest subway station: Myeongdong Exit 6
6. CD list checked! Now take a photo with a standee!
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Well although it seems impossible to meet our “oppa” and “noona” in real life, we can still at least take a photo with a standee! K-pop artists usually become spokespersons to a make-up brand. Therefore you can spot them easily at Myeongdong. Hana Dul Set (1, 2, 3), selfie time!
Nearest subway station: Myeongdong
7. Attend a music show
It is hard to get in a music show (musical program) unless you apply via a fan club. It is easier to go to a pre-recording session than a live broadcast. Usually you’ll need to bring the singer’s latest cd and apply one day earlier via the entertainment company’s website. Please do note that the requirements might be different for each fan club.
If you are not an official fan club member, Mnet M! Countdown gives tickets on a “first come first serve” basis. You’ll need to queue for the tickets early in the morning. However, the chances to of getting in is still not guaranteed, as the number of tickets depends on the Floor Manager.
Mnet M!Countdown Recording Session: Every Thursday
Address: CJ E&M Center, 1606 Sangam-dong, Mapo-gu Seoul
Nearest subway station: Digital Media City exit 9 (5-minute walk)
8. Go “Bang Bang Bang” at K-Live
Don’t be sad if you fail to get a ticket to the music show. You can always watch a hologram concert at K-Live! The performance is so impressive that you will feel as though you’re at a real concert. K-Live performances are dominated by YG Entertainment artists such as G-Dragon, Psy and Big Bang. You can also purchase official merchandise of various K-pop singers here.
Address: Level 9, Lotte Fitin, 264, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
Opening Hours: 2:00pm – 9:00 pm, Closes on Monday
Nearest subway station: Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Exit 11 and 12
Fee: K-pop experience – General: 19,000 won, Online reservation: 15,000 won
#HHWT Tips: Malaysian fans can get a discount up to 50% by using vouchers provided by KTO Malaysia. Please refer to this website. Now you don’t need to go to Seoul to experience a hologram concert as K-live recently opened a new franchise at Resort World Sentosa called K-live Sentosa. The Singaporean franchise is performed by JYPE artists such as Wonder Girls, 2PM and Got7
9. Buy everything with oppa/noona’s face on it
Step into the convenience stores and buy all items endorsed by your favourite singer. This can be applied to K-drama addicts too! This is a must-buy item besides the most wanted Banana Uyu (milk).
If you go to Seoul with non K-pop friends, they might not understand why you’re smiling to a standee 😆 Enjoy and have fun!