K-pop Tourism – Part II

The Hallyu Wave has been trending for some years, and nowadays k-pop is a huge attraction for those who visit South Korea! Especially Seoul, the city where pretty much all the k-pop labels have their head office. The best neighborhood to visit if you are looking for k-pop tourism is definitely Gangnam. Yes, the same “Gangnam” from the hit “Gangnam Style” by PSY – clearly he didn’t write this in vain. Gangnam is a very rich neighborhood in Seoul. The neighborhood is mostly known for a large number of plastic surgery clinics, huge skyscrapers, expensive stores, etc. It’s the neighborhood for ostentation – even the cafes will have a higher price. But do not worry much, most of the k-pop related attractions are for free.

Going to Gangnam by subway is really easy! You can drop off at various stations and enjoy a nice walk through the neighborhood. If you are not really good with directions, I do recommend that you download either Naver Map or Kakao Map on your mobile. Goggle Maps doesn’t work really well in Korea. Once you drop off the subway, the k-pop tourism in Gangnam can be found in a straight line

Gangnam Style – trending until nowadays

This nice sculpture is located only a few blocks away from “SM Coex Atrium”. K-pop fans have heard the song “Gangnam Style”, by talented artist PSY, at least one time – but probably a lot more. The music video for Gangnam Style was the most viewed of the world in Youtube for a while, and as a consequence k-pop became more and more famous all over the world. This song still plays in bars and clubs and is very well know not only by Korean people but also by people all over the world. PSY marked positively a whole generation in k-pop, also opening ways for new groups to grow and develop in the k-pop industry.

Although PSY was already very famous in South Korea, ‘Gangnam Style’ was the one song that brought international consistent fame for him. Alongside fame a lot of things also happen: one of them was this really cool sculpture. You can find it in Gangnam district (obviously) and it’s an attraction even for Korean people. It’s not very crowded but you will always see people taking pictures there. It’s a great place to go and boost your Instagram posts with cool pictures that could only have been taken in South Korea. I mean, where else can you find such sculpture?

Thematic Cafes

If you are reading this post right now you know there are big labels responsible for k-pop groups. Among them, SM Entertainment, JYP, YG, etc. Each of these companies has its own cafe, where you can find a lot of official merchandising. From water bottles to actual food with idols pictures, you can find a lot of thematic exclusive products of your favorite group in such cafes. In the picture above you can see SM Coex Atrium cafe, located at SM Coex Atrium. The cafe had a lot of thematic decorations! Unfortunately, because of corona, the cafe is not selling drinks during the weekends, so plan to go during weekdays!

This thematic cafes from the big labels are also a great place if you want to buy albums of your favorite groups. The price might not be the best you can find, but you can find all albums. Most stores have only the best selling or newest ones, whilst in these cafes, you can find the complete discography of your favorite group. I took a picture of SHINee’s complete discography at SM Coex Atrium cafe, and I was actually very surprised to see they had all albums for all groups, not only SHINee.

Idols hands

At last but not least one of my favorite moments of the k-pop tourism here in Seoul was this one! It really makes you feel like you are close to your idol. Although you won’t find the “hands” of all idols, at least all SM Entertainment idols have their hand sign. Each sign has the right hand of the idol plus their signature. It’s funny to compare your hand size with theirs! But don’t forget some of the idols did these signs when they were really young, so the actual size of their hands might have changed. Taemin is one example of that! His hand is really really small in the sign, but just by watching his music videos we know it’s not that small anymore.

You are allowed to touch and take pictures of all the signs, but try being careful. Because of the coronavirus, sanitize both your hand and the sign before touching it! After you do that, enjoy a moment close to your favorite idol.

I hope this post was useful for you, and also hope you have a lot of fun discovering k-pop related spots around Seoul! Tell me about it on the comment section below 😉

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🇧🇷 Virginia Lazzari DAvila

23 years old Linguistics and Literature student from Brazil, currently studying in Seoul. I've been studying the Korean language since 2015 and now I'm specializing in the teaching of Korean Language for romance language speakers. Enthusiastic for trips and discovering new places in Seoul!