As the raging heat of Korean summer drives us indoors, there are fewer places better places to go than a fun mall with refreshing AC. With that in mind, let’s visit AK &, Hongdae’s new shopping mall with 5 floors of unique brands.
There are 100s of shopping malls in South Korea but AK& is definitely one of the trendiest going. The plethora of street clothing brands, independent cosmetics and theme stationery stores attract lots of young people to AK&. Moreover, what sets this mall out above the rest is the entire 5th floor dedicated to anime, manhwa (web comics) and video games. Let’s take a look…
When you come through the main entrance, your attention will no doubt be captured by the colourful, well-loved ARTBOX. ARTBOX is a sure favourite amongst Koreans and foreign travellers, known for its adorable stationery, small gifts and accessories. What’s more, it is a must-visit in the summer to load up on adorable fans, cooling bags and beach toys!
Opposite ARTBOX is another renowned store, Chicor. Chicor paves the way between essential and luxury cosmetics. Here you will find domestic skincare and makeup with different unique selling points — I love their natural skincare range — as well as international brands.
Finally, the highlight of the floor is the exhibition on show. When I went, they had a limited edition cafe by Jeju Air: JejuAir On The Table. The cafe was designed to stimulate the experience of a JejuAir flight, with meals and beverages in the style of their in-flight service.
You can also find electronics, convenience store and tax refund kiosk on this floor.
On the 2nd floor you will also find exhibition shops selling cute gifts, art and accessories. Maybe it is because they’re temporary or because they’re trendy, but these shops are always FULL of people. Additionally, you can also find flower shops, popular fashion brands and sportswear.
The 3rd floor features permanent fixtures of international favourite brands like Nike and Champion. Additionally, you’ll find that this floor has a street fashion theme, with cool bucket hats, edgy crop tops and jeans and jewellery on offer.
These stores are notably large with fitting rooms so you can shop around and try things on until your heart is content!
As you rise up the escalator, you will quickly see SPAO straight ahead. SPAO is a popular yet cheap clothing brand great for young people living in Korea. My friend and I ended up buying some Harry Potter pyjamas at a good price.
However, the highlight of this floor is definitely the Flowers by Naked cafe. Much like the temporary pop ups on the lower floors, the cafe was full of customers enjoy beverages, desserts and the floral decor. Additionally, the NATURE LABS exhibition was located right next to it. This is a light effect show and gallery that you can purchase tickets for on the door, without a reservation.
We have now reached my favourite floor of AK& mall, and perhaps the most colourful and exciting floor! Here you can purchase models and memorabilia from your favourite Korean and Japanese anime, cartoons and games. What’s more, if you’re not looking to shop there is an anime character-themed cafe to relax in!
Korean favourites seem to be a running theme here at AK& because there is an entire store dedicated to the Japanese manga and anime “One Piece.” There is also a gaming shop where you can purchase everything from new games to consoles and original merchandise.
And to make sure that you realize what is the theme of this floor, as soon as you arrive they have the ‘One Piece Store’. Where they have tons of original and official items. And beside, you can find a gaming shop. Where you can buy video games, consoles and even merchandise!
Even your friends who don’t watch anime or read web-toons will find it cool to see real drawings and autographs from original creators.
Furthermore, a definite must-see is the memorabilia from Korean video games, including those available on smart phones. For example, you can find products from “Mystic Messenger,” an interactive game where the characters actually call you! Of course, at KST… Who else woke up at 3AM to these calls?
If you’re a newbie to Korean and Japanese gaming, don’t worry, they have sections dedicated to Western favourites like Marvel too.
Remember when I said you could buy consoles here? Well you can also try them out for free, whether you intend to buy or not. So enjoy some new and retro-style games on the consoles available here!
My personal favourite store was Animate! A store featuring everything comics, manhwas and mangas. As such, I spent almost 2 hours on this floor!
Finally, a special addition to an already-trendy mall: the Musinsa Terrace. Musinsa is another popular fashion brand in Korea, but here at AK& they possess the top floor, along with its stunning city view. Come up to shop or just to relax with some coffee and the scenery.
Address: 188 Yanghwa-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul Operating Hours: 11:00am - 10:00pm everyday Website: akand.co.kr
Take subway line 2, Gonghang or Gyeongeui Jungang lines to Hongik University. Leave via Exit 4 and AK & is straight ahead.
You may have noticed from the location that AK & is in an ideal location. Easy access to Hongdae main street, Yeonnam-dong, and public transport services that include direct routes to Incheon and Gimpo International Airports. A pretty good place for Accommodation right?
Thankfully, someone else had that idea too. Right next to AK & is a Holiday Inn Express, an inexpensive yet popular place to stay in Seoul!
AK & Hongdae is the best place to escape the summer heatwave. There is plenty of shopping, themed cafes and entertainment inside… not to mention cool AC! It is also heaven for anime lovers, and a place where newbies can fall in love with anime and comics!
Have you visited AK &? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading my article and don’t forget to subscribe to KoreabyMe for more interesting Korean Travel blogs! You can see my profile here