안녕하세요여러분! Hello Everyone, and welcome to another episode of Korea: Sights and Sounds. Today’s topic is Myeongdong, Seoul’s most popular shopping district.
Myeondong (명동) is a collection of streets and side streets wherein lies food, entertainment, and retail of every imaginable kind. Electronics (though supposedly the best deals are found in the Yongsan Electronics Market), shoes, clothes, cosmetics, skin care products, bags, street vendors (of both food and trinkets – I almost stopped to buy a Goku figurine but since I don’t know how to haggle and I was weighed down by two bags, I kept it moving. ), coffee shops, Korean food, Japanese food, American food, a massage parlor, a movie theater, 노래방 (noraebang; Korean version of the Japanese karaoke) – you name it, Myeongdong probably it.
Myeongdong has practically everything … including crowds (hence no pictures- I didn’t want to be knocked over). Being a major tourist and local draw, avoiding the crowds is nigh impossible unless you come at 8 or 9 am when the shopkeepers are setting up and half the shops are closed until 10. The area is especially popular with Japanese tourists, so don’t be surprised when you hear female employees advertising their store’s products in Korean and Japanese. I admit that I wanted to ask some friendly-looking Japanese tourists directions since I was a little lost, but I figured they had no idea either since most either had a map in their hands or were wandering around aimlessly (plus I don’t know certain direction words in Japanese). But I was on a mission, and after 20-30 minutes of walking back and forth and meeting food street after food street, I finally found the place that I was searching for….
SPAO is an off-brand clothing store whose selling point is the SM Entertainment (one of the big record labels in Korea) artists that model the merchandise, as in the following pictures (featuring Super Junior) and video:
Admittely, the clothes themselves are nothing that you wouldn’t find in an Old Navy, American Eagle, Abercrombie & Fitch, or other similar brand name stores with global footprints. However, that hasn’t stopped me, Japanese fangirls (two were fangirling over Super Junior member Yesung’s picture), or ordinary Korean boys and girls from buying the star-marketed merchandise. The place attracted a decent amount of shoppers, but I didn’t have to elbow anyone out of my way.
The Receipt: I racked up ₩ 189, 300 (around $170) on 2 “checkered”/plaid shirts, a salmon-colored pullover hoodie, a dark blue shirt, black jeggings (been looking for those for a while), a red cardigan, and a sky blue sweater. Overall, I spent less than I have at YesStyle (an Internet-based Asian fashion store that has a branch in San Francisco ). It’s safe to say that I’m ready for fall. And yes, I’m still in control of my finances.
Next stop …
On the 4th floor of SPAO is EverySing, SM Entertainment’s official music shop. Besides albums from all of SM’s popular artists (Super Junior, TVXQ/DBSK, Girls’ Generation, Shinee, BoA, F(x), EXO-K, EXO-M), the store also sells photos, photo cards, autographed portraits, mugs, and other assorted products featuring your favorite SM artists. Once again, the Japanese tourists made my day- one said “Sugoi!” (Amazing!) as soon as she entered the shop and another girl said something along the lines of “Waa~Shinee!” (Can’t type in Japanese on the dorm computers.)
For the non-SM fan, there is a small selection of Korean dramas for sale, mostly those that star K-pop idols. There’s a LCD screen that plays K-pop videos as well.
(Pssst- The Kyobo Bookstore near Gwanghwamun carries the very same same CDs available at EverySing for a couple thousand won cheaper. So you might wanna check there before heading over to EverySing.)
The Receipt: Well, I didn’t buy anything. I admit that I was tempted by a huge TVXQ frame, a TVXQ Japanese concert DVD, various Super Junior photos, and a Super Junior-M mug, all of which you will never see because the store forbids customers from taking pictures.
Overall, I didn’t really like Myeongdong due to the LACK OF SIGNAGE. As a directionally challenged person, I need signs to tell me if I’m on the right track. If it’s not going to have signs, then there needs to be some form of organization, like restaurants are on Food Street, Clothing Stores are on the Clothing Street, etc. So I prefer places like COEX Mall (another All-in-One shopping place) because there are signs and maps and the stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues are fairly organized.
Well, that wraps up another episode of Korea: Sights and Sounds! 다음번에만나요! See you next time!