Saturday, January 20, 2018

How To Tour Gangnam With A Style?

I bet you never heard of Gangnam until phenomenal Korean singer named PSY used it as an inspiration of his upbeat song called “Oppa Gangnam Style”. Everyone was so curious about Gangnam when that song became so famous. What's in that town that people are going crazy about?


For me, Gangnam is just like any other cities in South Korea. The name has even no special meaning except that it describes the actual location of the city which is the South of the river. In Korea, there's only one river circulating around Seoul and they call it Han River which literally means One River. Gangnam is located in the southern part of Han River, so they called it GANG-NAM which means South and River.


Personally, I would rather go down south in Busan or tour around Gapyeong city where Nami Island and Garden of the Morning Calm are located, but if you really want to visit Gangnam for curiosity's sake, then by all means, visit it and make the most out of your time by putting a little bit of spice and style during your visit. How? Here are my recommendations of the things you can do at Gangnam.

Pay respect to the Oppa Gangnam Style

As an homage to the song that made the city very very famous around the globe, they put up a mini station where people can take photos while dancing to the tune of Oppa Gangnam Style. Of course, you must do the trademark dance step along with PSY's caricature while being poked fun at by the by-passers. Don't worry, it's part of the plan and it's something you should experience. This is located right at the Exit 5 of Gangnam station in the Seoul Subway.

Shop Till You Drop!

If you don't mind spending extra won on shopping, Gangnam is the place to be. Although shopping here could be very expensive, it is rather satisfying and something to be proud of because only rich people can afford shopping at Gangnam, that means you have money and you can afford it. If you don't have money, then window shopping around one of the biggest malls in Korea which is COEX is something you can do for free. Why not walk around the shopping malls, thrift markets and souvenir shops to satisfy your shopping needs?

Party All Night

If people go crazy shopping during daytime, they turned into party animals at night because Gangnam is a city that never sleeps. It's so alive especially at night time because clubs are all over the place. This is one city where club hopping is at your convenience.

Plastic Surgery

If you have budget and you are not happy with the way you look, Gangnam is one place in Korea where plastic surgery clinics are everywhere. It's like a haven of clinics for people who want to change the way they look. Don't worry, the society will not judge you for doing so. It's normal at Gangnam.

Just Get Lost in the City

If you have plenty of time to burn, walking aimlessly in the little alleys and corners of Gangnam would make your experience more memorable. Treat yourself as one of those locals and walk around without destination. Don't be afraid to get lost, young people in the Gangnam Area can speak English, so you won't find it hard to ask around in case you need help. Talk to the locals, observe their lifestyle and make friends with them. You will get to know the place better if you immerse yourself with the locals.

Next time you're in Seoul, pay a little visit to the most famous place in Korea, Gangnam! There's nothing really special, but believe me, the experience is one for the books.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

An Artsy Walk at the Busan Gamcheon Cultural Village(부산 감천문화마을)

There’s more to Busan than trains and beaches, and yeah, zombies. This city located in the southern part of South Korea has recently sparked the interest of the tourists because of the famous movie “Train to Busan”. While it is disappointing to think that zombies on the trains bound to Busan do not exist, it is still worth visiting because it offers a lot of interesting places and tourist spots, and one of these is the Gamcheon Cultural Village.

I must say that Gamcheon is an art village. It has the same ambiance and feels as in the Ihwa Mural Village in Seoul and the Changdong Art Village in the nearby city called Masan. However, Gamcheon Cultural Village has its own character and definitely, a unique story. They called it a Lego City, because from the distance, it really looks like colorful block of legos connected to form a magnificent view. I think the best view of the city is at the entrance near the bus stop of Gamcheon. Although I could honestly stay at the area for the whole day to save myself from the scorching heat of the sun and to give my legs some rest, I just thought my experience would never be complete without going through the alleys of the village.

Who would have thought that Gamcheon was used to be a slum area. The city government of Busan has found a way to convert those shanties and dilapidated alleys into something interesting and touristy. If you know the history of Gamcheon, you would understand how it became so depressing after very long years. This village was actually used by the soldiers as shelter during the war. As it gets older and older, the society has completely abandoned the village and it turned out to be slum area. There are still people who wouldn’t want to let go of the village. Although the population has decreased, there are still remaining residences in the area.

The best way to make the village still useful and conducive for living is to renovate it. However, it has deep culture and history that the government still wants to preserve its cultural aspect. They made no changes of the village except for improving the alleys, the walls and painting the houses in an artsy way. Artists and painters have joint forces to make an art-themed transformation over the dilapidated village.

Today, if you go to Gamcheon Village, you will notice the steep stairs, the long and winding alleys and the touch of art which is present in every corner of the village. From the stairways, to the walls and even the fences and roofs, you’ll see art everywhere. Instagrammers, Art Lovers and artists would definitely enjoy the walk at this village despite of its challenging route.

Due to the number of tourists flock to the area, some parts of the village have been commercialized. There are cafes, boutiques, souvenir shops and even restaurants in the area. Some people say that Gamcheon is the Santorini of South Korea. Although I am not sure how Santorini looks like in the actual as I have never been there before, I believe that Gamcheon could be considered as a world class tourist spot because it takes a lot of effort to transform a dying village into something colorful and vibrant as what it is now. Next time you go to Busan, please include Gamcheon Village in your itinerary. It is not difficult to go there.  You just need to take a train and get off at Toseon Station which is in Line 1 of Busan Metro. Go to Exit 6, then walk towards Cancer Center Hospital. From there, take Bus number 2 or 2-2 and get off at Gamcheon Cultural Village.