Skip to content

Seoul 101: Lessons on the Seoul Subway & Myeongdong Shopping District

June 4, 2010

Because Seoul National University is apparently on the outskirts of Seoul and relatively ‘inaccessible’, I felt pretty cooped up in my dorm doing my distance learning course so I decided to try my luck at navigating the widely-reviewed and raved-about public transport system by myself.

So after finishing up my Black Arts Movement homework, I spontaneously went online to search for stuff to do in Seoul at night and chanced upon Myeongdong, TripAdvisor’s #3 Thing to Do in Seoul. And so I just packed my bag and went off on my language-handicapped romp through the city.

I must say that although the buses are less technologically advanced than Singapore, I think their subway system possibly rivals or even outdoes that of the SMRT. The first thing I noticed was the fact that every station was equipped with glass doors, and beyond the glass doors was yet another small platform-like ledge before you step into the train. This was pretty ingenious because I think it’s useful in it preventing avoidable accidents or intended suicides from happening. Also the train route map within the MRT was like that of New York City’s – a green light indicates you are currently at the station, a flashing orange light indicates the next station etc. Unlike Singapore where our route maps are static.

Furthermore the Koreans’ etiquette with regards to orderliness was stunning. Everyone lined up in 2 rows in front of every glass door and stepped to the side whenever people were exiting. This also occurred on the escalator. Everyone veered right by default. Dude, Singapore has soo much to learn on this note.

So after I got off at Myeongdong, it hit me that it looked like the Bugis Street Market in the context of Orchard Road. Loads of Far East-like stalls but the clothes are MUCH MUCH nicer. I would actually buy some of this stuff! Definitely planning on heading back there again to shop. Oh, and before I forget – a personal bookmark: Wiki Wiki in front of the giant Kimbab sign! The shirts they sell there are fab, but they’re really expensive: USD 32 for a long tee with some black graphics?

Myeongdong Street Capture.

Myeongdong street capture 2. Look at that guy's face - it's full of disdain for my intrusive photography lol

The famed Lotte plaza on the left, beside the flagship Louis Vuitton store.

There are many streets which lead in a grid-like fashion from the Myeongdong station all the way to the GIGANTIC Lotte Plaza. I didn’t go there cos by the time I navigated through all the streets (losing my bearings after popping into a jewelry shop), I was tired, hungry and wanted desperately to head to some grub. Street food, from my experience in travelling around Asia and Egypt (Ooh, I remember the falafels! And the amazing chilli eggplant in Luxor!) , is always dirty, authentic and therefore, awesome.

So I grabbed something like Chinese guo-tie (pot stickers, or at least that’s what they literally translated them to in the States), except they were stuffed with 야채 (vegetables) and some sweet-savoury gravy for only 2500 won!

My dinner! MM MM. (:

Oh and for the street side stalls, most people buy the food and stand around the booth eating their food so you can gauge which food stalls are the most popular just by the people standing around gorging. It’s amazing how Korean women are so weight and appearance conscious but they are willing to throw in the towel (just for that one meal) and stuff themselves silly with oily street food. That, my friends, is the mark of  good-to-the-bone Korean food.

Those amazing guo-tie like things cooked on the spot and oozing with oily goodness!

I have a series of shots of this very popular ddok-boki store but this has the clearest image of the amazingly sinful food. I couldn't get through the crowd cos there were just too many girls throwing away their diets and pigging out on these sticks of meat! There's like french fries on deep fried batter around a hot dog, bacon-wrapped sausage etc. Who can resist!?

Also another curious thing that struck me was the way the stores arranged their displays. Typically multi-storeyed store fronts have womens clothes downstairs but not for Korean outlets. Menswear occupy the first floor and women have to clamber up to the next floor to find their clothes. I think that’s because in Korea, men are also expected to look a certain way and to care very much about their appearances also. Although I REALLY don’t get the trend of the huge 1980s big black spectacle frame revival?? That is one trend that should be stored away in the recesses of fashion. See below for evidence of fashion boo-boo:

Can someone PLEASE enlighten me what this is about?

Oh and they stage live performances where they invite audience members to gyrate on stage.

The live performance by random audience members!

This girl dressed in pink was super on! Look at that intensity on her face! FIERCE. She even got down unto the floor and like gyrated on it, while touching her body. o_0 The guy next to her was kept on stage, and when he said he was 21 years old, the Korean classic “A Private’s Letter” started playing while he made a romantic speech to his girlfriend (in the audience) to wait for him because he loves her. The girl came on stage and he got down on his knee and proposed marriage to her after his army days and kissed her! WHO SAID KOREANS WERE SHY??

Unsuspecting girlfriend. Boyfriend is on his knees thus the mop of hair near the emcee's arm. It's not the emcee's beard, FYI!

His speech of undying love before the surprise kiss.

I got lost on my way back and spent the whole time speaking in Korean with this kind lady who helped me find my way back after asking a 7-11. If anything, the past few days have made me realize the limits of my vocab and how hindered I am here. I communicate with my roommate now via writing Chinese, in hopes that it looks like something in Hanja, and she communicates with me via her electronic translator. T_T

That’s all for now! I need to find something interesting to do every day so I can keep writing my daily journals! Lol 🙂

3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2010 9:13 am

    Lol. We have the flashing lights on the trains lah. Obviously you haven’t been on the trains for a long time back at home. X) Plus they tell us which side the doors are opening at the next stop.

  2. June 4, 2010 10:00 am

    ORLY!? Yea they do that here in Seoul too! Oh wow yes that means I haven’t been home a reaally long time.

  3. yuen gi permalink
    June 15, 2010 10:45 am

    hahah. myeongdong! my favourite place in seoul. their SPAO shop is the bomb. hehh.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: