Entertainment in Korea
Noraebangs or singing rooms are a popular form of entertainment in South Korea and can be found almost anywhere. Many people enjoy renting a small room and singing their hearts out for about an hour or two. The room comes with a song selection folder filled with both Korean and Western pop favorites so you can imitate your childhood pop idols.
Bars and Soju tents are scattered all over the peninsula. Clubbing is also a popular thing to do in Korea. You can find clubs that play hip-hop, rock and roll, house, jazz, and just about any other kind of music you are looking for. Club entrance fees usually run you about 10 000 won, but can be as high as 20 000 or 30 000 won for special events. Drinks vary in price depending on where you go. At an upscale bar in Apgujeong you could pay as much as 13 000 won for a cocktail, whereas in Shinchon you might pay 4 000 to 5 000 won for the same drink. Recommended areas to explore are: Hongdae, Shinchon, Apgujeong, Gangnam, Itaewon, and many more!
The DVD room is a great alternative to the movie theater used primarily by couples who want some privacy. You can rent your own private room to watch a movie that you have selected to rent for the duration of the film. Most rooms come equipped with a bed and big screen TV or projector so you can enjoy your movie in a comfortable and intimate atmosphere.
The country has a reputation as a shoppers’ paradise, with many shops providing special duty free prices for foreigners. Fashion, antiques, medicine, herbs and spices, electronics and wedding clothes feature highly on Korea’s shopping itinerary. The best shopping districts and markets are in the capital, Seoul, and include: Namdaemun (Korea’s largest general wholesale market); Tongdaemun (one of Seoul’s oldest markets, good for bargains); Myong-dong (Korea’s fashion district); Insa-dong (antiques and art); Changanp’yong (one of the largest antique markets in the Far East); Itaewon (modern shopping district particularly popular with foreign tourists); Noryargjin (fish market); Yongsan Electronics Market (largest electronics and computer market in Korea); Koyndang (Oriental medicine, spices and herbs market); Hwangkhak-dong (flea market, good for second-hand shopping); Ahyon-dong (the ‘wedding street’, featuring over 120 wedding boutiques); and Shinch’on (a shopping street popular with young people, good for accessories and fashion).
Favorite buys to look for are hand-tailored clothes, sweaters (plain, embroidered or beaded), silks, brocades, handbags, leatherwork, gold jewelry, topaz, amethyst, amber, jade and silver, ginseng, paintings, costume dolls, musical instruments, brassware, lacquer ware, woodcarvings, baskets, scrolls and screens. Prices are fixed in department stores, but may be negotiated in arcades and markets. Major cities have foreigners’ duty free shops where people can use foreign currency with a valid passport.
Shopping hours: Mon-Sun 1030-2000
Korean cinema in the last two decades has become world renowned. Movie theatres often have showings for English and Korean films, so check the postings near you. South Korea has also become very proud of hosting the annual Busan international film festival.
Korean art ranges from the traditional to the modern. Depending on what you are interested in, you can view thousand year old pottery and Buddhist wood burnings, or contemporary multi-media pieces. Exhibitions will often display art from other countries around the world. So for example you can see Picasso in Seoul. Here is a list of some major art galleries and Museums in Seoul.
Multidisciplinary center for contemporary visual arts and film. Address: 144-2 Sokeukdong, Jongrogu, Seoul 110-200
Ewha Womans University Museum
Founded in 1935. Collections of ancient Korean objects: ceramic, pottery, tools, tomb-excavated objects, Buddhist artworks, ceramics (Cheong-ja), wood crafts, calligraphy. The museum owns some Chinese material as well. Address: 11-1, Daehyon-dong, Sodaemun-gu, Seoul.
Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art
Opened in October 2004. Three museum buildings: traditional Korean art, modern and contemporary art by Korean and foreign artists, Samsung Child Education & Culture Center. Address: 747-18 Hannam-Dong. Yongsan-Gu, Seoul, Korea 140-893.
National Museum of Contemporary Art
Collections and temporary exhibitions of national and international art from the beginning of the 20th century up to the present. Opened in 1969, since 1986 located in a new complex with a scultpure garden in Gwacheon, 5 km south of Seoul. Address: 427-701, Gwangmyeong-gil (209), san 58-1, Makgye-dong, Gwacheon-si, Gyeonggi Province.
National Museum of Korea
Korean cultural heritage, ancient art from Asia. In 1908, the art collection of the royal court of the Choson Dynasty (1392 - 1910) was turned into the seed collection of the present National Museum of Korea. Jungangcheong, Seoul
Seoul Arts Center
Complex art and cultural center: Opera house, music hall, exhibition hall (Hangaram Art Museum), calligraphy hall (Seoul Calligraphy Art Museum), culture and art information center (Hangaram Design Art Museum). Address: 700 Seocho-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul.
Seoul Museum of Art
The former Seoul Metropolitan Museum of Art was reopened under its new name in May 2002, in the remodeled buildings of the old Supreme Court. Korean and international contemporary art. Address : 37 Seodaemun-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 110-062
Sung-Kok Art Museum
Opened in 1995 by the Sung-Kok Art and Culture Foundation. Shows art from Korea as well as experimental and international exhibitions, designed to keep local artists involved with new directions in art across the globe. Address: 1-101 Shinmoomro 2 Ga, Chongro-Gu, Seoul.