Discovering K-Pop Culture in 24 Hours

January 30, 2015 frvbali
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The excitement at Myeongdong Market with all the elements of the K-Pop lifestyle.

Text and Photos by Erza S.T.

K-Pop, aka Korean Pop, is an interesting culture that has inspired many youngsters around the world. It is a phenomenon where Asian boy bands with their high sense of fashion and ability to dance is taking over American pop culture. The fact that Psy and his Gangnam Style can rule the music charts worldwide like Saturday Night Fever has never ceased to amaze me. On a recent short trip to Seoul, I learned that K-Pop is more then just a bunch of over styled and jumpy teenagers. It is actually a very interesting lifestyle where traditional heritage meets popular culture.

Over the decades, Seoul has grown into one of the most important metropolitan cities in Asia, and maybe the world. With their competitive and assertive ways of promoting their culture, food, style, cosmetics, music and technology, Seoul has become a very interesting city to visit. The city landscape is filled with beautiful and modern skyscrapers where the inhabitants look ‘oh so chic’ on a daily basis. Since time was not on my side, I decided to choose three landmarks that would give me the big picture of the city.

The beautiful Changdeokgung Palace.

The beautiful Changdeokgung Palace.

The Historical Path: Changdeokgung Palace
Located right in downtown Seoul, this palace is one of the “Five Grand Palaces” built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897). Known as the East Palace, most of the infrastructure here was rebuilt using the original design that was destroyed during the Japanese occupation of Korea. Nevertheless, it is a good place to start an adventure in Seoul as it gives an understanding of Korea’s past as well as their great culture and architectural design. Highlights in this palace include Donhwamun Gate (the palace’s main gate that has a two-storey pavilion type wooden structure), Geumcheongyo Bridge (the oldest bridge in Seoul, built in 1411), Injeongjeon Hall (the throne hall), Seonjeongjeon Hall (the king’s hall for ruling officials), Huijeongdang Hall (the king’s bed chamber) and Daejojeon Hall (the official residence of the queen).

Seoul Fashion Week in Dongdaemun Design Plaza.

Seoul Fashion Week in Dongdaemun Design Plaza.

The Future: Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Built by the world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid, Dongdaemun Design Plaza, aka DDP, is a unique public space comprising art and exhibition halls, a conference hall, design museum, design labs and academy hall, seminar rooms, designer lounge, and even a design market that is open 24 hours a day. Only inaugurated last March, this new design icon has a neo-futuristic design that is characterized by the powerful, curving forms of the elongated structures. A visit to this place will enrich you with various interesting knowledge about architecture, design, contemporary art, city planning, to even fashion! Last time I was there, DDP was hosting Seoul Fashion Week and it was fun to rub shoulders with local fashionistas and celebrities. DDP is located in Seoul’s most famous fashion district, Dongdaemun, and is definitely worth visiting.

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Myeongdong market is definitely a vibrant place to visit when you want to see the life of Korean people.

The KPop Lifestyle: Myeongdong Market
In my opinion, to visit a market is always the best way to learn about the local culture, tradition and lifestyle. Myeongdong market is definitely a vibrant place to visit when you want to see the life of Korean people. From food sellers offering various distinctive indigenous delicacies, numerous local fashion brands and designers, cosmetic shops, vintage products, jewelry, theatres, and even a Jimjilbangaka local bath house. In this market you can find every Korean cosmetic brand and almost a thousand shops. Don’t forget to ask for free samples. A few fashion local brands such as 8ight Seconds, Mocoloco, Teenie Weenie and Folder really stand out and have great collections. Overall, Myeongdong is the place where you can truely embrace the essence of the K-Pop lifestyle.

After such a great day and night, I really look forward to going back to Seoul and unravelling some more aspects of this dynamic city. Seoul is definitely a fantastic destination to visit, even if you only have a short time there. [RFV]

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