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October 20, 2016

A World of Flavor to Fill the Halls of Coex this November at Food Week Korea

A world of flavor is coming to Coex from November 2 to 5 as Food Week Korea kicks off its eleventh show. Showcasing Korea’s hottest restaurants, vendors and franchises, along with some of the best food in the world, Food Week Korea 2016 promises to deliver on its tradition of successful and entertaining (not to mention tasty!) exhibitions.

Organized by Coex, Korea’s premier exhibition organizer, Food Week 2016 will host a number of international guests including a Turkish pavilion, Chinese pavilion and an ASEAN Fair dedicated to regional food.

Last year’s ASEAN pavilion saw 100 different companies representing the region, and presented a number of promotional events and demonstrations. In addition to featuring a range of international guests, this year’s pavilion will also highlight current Korean food trends.

This year’s Food Week theme is “IDEAL”, which stands for Internet, Desserts, Easy, Alone, and Less, and reflects the current food market trends in Korea.

Online shopping and app delivery services are transforming consumers’ access to deals, niche offerings and even full meals. Sharing photos of exotic desserts has also become a hot trend in Korea. With more people living on their own, combined with the hectic lifestyle of today, convenient, ready-made food with little to no artificial ingredients has also become a major focus.

For those with a passion for cakes, pies and baked goodies, the Seoul International Bakery Fair will be held alongside Food Week Korea.

There will be plenty of opportunities to satisfy that sweet tooth and pick up any baking or cookware you’ve been meaning to purchase. Together, the two exhibitions will also hold a number of exciting events including baking shows, cooking classes and competitions.

Coex will also be operating its time-tested 1:1 business matching program to maximize opportunities between exhibitors and qualified buyers.

Last year’s Food Week held a record breaking year with over 900 companies from 31 countries and saw nearly 80,000 visitors in attendance throughout the duration of the show. An impressive 90% of exhibitors and 87% of buyers were satisfied with the show’s offering.

For more information about Food Week Korea 2016, contact the show secretariat at foodweek.info@coex.co.kr.

More Information: Food Week Korea 2016

Website: Click Here

Facebook: Click Here

Twitter: Click Here 

Address: Coex Hall A & B, World Trade Center Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul 135-731

Get There: From Samseong Station (Seoul Subway Line 2) Use the passage directly connected from exit 5 or 6 to Coex Mall through Millennium Plaza.

Map: Click Here

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Min's Kitchen: Contemporary Korean Cuisine at its Finest

Korean cuisine, like the country itself, is fast evolving.

Breaking away from the traditional focus on fermented dishes and pungent spices, contemporary Korean cuisine takes a lighter approach. It uses a variety of Western cooking and plating techniques, and is more delicate with the seasoning to allow the flavor profiles of the incorporated ingredients to really shine through.

The style is slowly but surely gaining in popularity around the world. This is due in part to the efforts of Korea’s trailblazing chefs who have over the years dared to take risks and explore untraveled gastronomic terrain.

Renowed chef Minji Kim is a shining example.

In 2007, Chef Kim opened Min’s Kitchen to share with Seoul her passion for cooking and to offer a new way to enjoy Korean food. Since then, she has become the poster child for the contemporary Korean cuisine movement, hosting a TV show and authoring a number of cookbooks including the recently published Four Seasons of Korean Cooking.

She was kind enough to invite me to stop by the restaurant’s Apgujeong location, where I was treated to a tasty feast of Korean classics with a special Chef Kim twist.

First Impressions 

Min’s Kitchen, located just a stone’s throw from Dosan Park, boasts an atmosphere that is fitting for the prestigious neighborhood it calls home. Although a bit on the quiet side during my Thursday evening visit, the vibe is at once casual and refined, with a clean interior and modern furnishings.

The service is friendly and the menu is extensive. Various set lunch and dinner courses give diners the chance to taste a bit of everything, while à la carte offerings are divided by protein—beef, pork, chicken and seafood. Guests can opt to order half or whole servings of most of the menu items.

The Drinks 

While Min’s Kitchen is most famous for its wine offerings, my dinner date and I started our meal with a bottle of Moonbaesool, a traditional distilled liquor that is reputed for being one of the finest spirits on the peninsula.

Admittingly, I am not a fan of soju and until I tried this variety, I had yet to find one that I actually enjoyed drinking. At 40% abv, I expected it to pack a punch, but was pleasantly surprised by its crisp smoothness.

With the first sip, the liquor comes off sweet with strong notes of pear, but soon becomes salty, then goes on to fill the mouth with a smoky essence. The aesthetics of its small, beautifully designed bottle only added to the experience.

The Food 

At the recommendation of Chef Minji, we ordered a variety of à la carte items, starting with the Cold Bean Sprout Salad (₩18,500/ ₩34,000). A heap of sprouts was topped with beef, abalone, shrimp and octopus, and drizzled with a subtle soy sauce dressing. The flavors, more than anything else, were clean and incredibly fresh.

It was an excellent prologue for the more ambrosial Bulgalbi Salad (₩21,000/ ₩39,500)—succulent grilled marinated rib-eye set atop a bed of fresh greens. This was my personal favorite dish of the evening, as the meat was perfectly cooked and packed with all the quintessentially Korean flavors I’ve come to know and love since living here.

Another highlight of the meal was the Assorted Pancakes (₩19,000/ ₩34,500). As a jeon fanatic, it was nice to see such a wide variety of the savory Korean pancake dish, including mushroom, lotus root, zucchini and fish. Unlike the majority of the jeon that I’ve tried in the past, these were not greasy or oily, but superbly fried and paired well with the accompanying soy dipping sauce.

We followed these with the Chicken Gangjeong with Leek, fried chicken tossed in Min’s special sauce that reminded us of American-style Chinese food, and White Sauce Shrimp (₩28,000), ten pieces of crispy whole fried shrimp tossed in a creamy sauce.

Chef Kim brought us a chilled omija beverage to finish things off. It was subtle and sweet—a nice ending to a good meal.

The Dining Experience 

Overall, I enjoyed our visit to Min’s Kitchen. Our meal was a delightful dining experience of balanced, delicate and subtle flavor profiles. In addition to the food itself, each of the dishes was plated in a memorable, modern way. The beautifully crafted ceramics enhanced the aesthetic.

More Information: Min's Kitchen

Address: 10-4, Dosan-daero 45-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

Phone: 02-544-1007

Reservations: Recommended

Hours: Lunch 11:30am-3pm; Dinner 5:30-10pm

Price: Moderate

Website: Click Here


For more restaurant reviews as well as travel guides, insider tips and general info about Seoul, follow Seoul Searching on Facebook

Disclaimer: The meal mentioned in the article above was provided free of charge in exchange for a review. The opinions, are of course, my own.

Words by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.

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October 18, 2016

What to Do, See and Eat at Gangnam Station

The Gangnam Station area (yes, that Gangnam) stretches from the subway station of the same name to the northern end of Sinnonhyeon Station and is a place where Korea’s education, youth and corporate cultures converge simultaneously.

Its electric streets really come alive at night, when businessmen and career women descend from the modern office buildings that tower high above the commerce district, which is home to the headquarters of Samsung Electronics.

At the same time, uniformed high school students weave in and out of alleys, where the city’s major concentration of cram schools keep zombie-faced teenagers locked within their walls until the late hours of the night reviewing practice questions for suneung, a standardized test required by Korean universities.

As a transportation hub, the neighborhood—particularly the main strip—remains constantly abuzz with commuters, only verifying the fact that Gangnam Station might just be the epicenter of the rat race that is Seoul.

Although Gangnam makes it clear that Koreans work hard, it is just as obvious that they play hard, too.

Chock full of entertainment venues ranging from hofs (Korean bars) to some of the city’s biggest dance clubs, it’s a place where hard-working college students and corporate suits go to let off a bit of steam, or to go hunting, a Konglish term meaning to pick up men or women.

Gangnam Station is a great spot to experience Korean nightlife, but also offers some interesting things to see and do before the sun goes down. Explore them all by following the guide below.

A Glimpse into Future Korea

Arriving at Gangnam Station can be a bit of an overwhelming experience, to say the least, due to its sheer size. But for shoppers, it can be a trip highlight. Here, hundreds of tiny clothing, accessory, cosmetics and telecommunication shops are conveniently lined up one after the other, making it easy for shoppers to compare prices and quality before making a purchase.

Additionally, the Sinbundang Line Underground Shopping Center, which is attached to Gangnam Station, boasts an endless number of low- to mid-priced clothing stores and coffee shops, making it a nice alternative to other shopping districts in less-than-favorable weather.

Attached to the station is Samsung d’light, a museum of sorts that takes its name from "digital" and "light," and aims to be a "guiding light to the digital world," all the while functioning as a beacon to lead consumers to an entirely new way of life made possible by digital technology. But rather than simply showcasing how its products convey its vision, Samsung lets visitors experience how its devices and solutions are molding our future through a series of immersive activities.

Visitors embark on a digital journey to the future on the first floor, where they use a chip-enabled bracelet to participate in an interactive experience to determine their digital personalities. Upstairs, guests explore the homes, classrooms and cafes of the future.

Through augmented reality, visitors can get a glimpse at how the Internet of Things communicates between smart devices like the refrigerator, the television and even the bathroom mirror, to make life more convenient and connected. The d’light shop in the basement is a one-stop shop for all of Samsung’s latest electronic gadgets.

But Samsung isn’t the only one exploring the digital frontier. In fact, as soon as you make your way to the thick of Gangnam Station along the main street, you’ll soon notice towering media poles that create a futuristic vibe.

The poles are said to be some of the most advanced digital signage systems in the world and were installed by the Seoul government in hopes to make Gangnam a sort of digital testing lab. The signs function as wifi hot spots and enable passersby to take pictures, play games, search for traffic information and get detailed map information. Go on, touch the future!

High Kicks and Ovens That Are Brick 

While Gangnam most certainly exudes a futuristic air, touches of tradition can be experienced here as well. Kukkiwon, although a bit of a walk from the station, is one place to see this cultural side. Originally founded to be a center of Taekwondo, Korea’s national sport, it is now the venue of the World Taekwondo Championships, as well as other various national competitions.

For those looking to add some “kick” to their Gangnam tour, Kukkiwon operates the Taekwondo Experience Program to allow tourists and international visitors to experience Taekwondo. The program is held three times a day from Tuesday to Sunday and introduces basic Taekwondo techniques such as self-defense and breaking.

For lunch, fill your belly with the mouthwatering pizzas of Brick Oven New York Pizzeria. Owned and operated by James Yu, a culinary enthusiast who spent years in New York mastering the art of the city's signature dish, the restaurant has tossed, baked and served up some of the tastiest pizzas in Seoul over the past few years. Although on the pricier side, the ingredients used at BONY are of the highest quality, while the crust is thin, but strong and comes out the oven perfectly golden.

The menu varies from classic pepperoni to The Godfather—a fantastic concoction of homemade Italian sausage, ground beef, pepperoni, and BONY's special Diavlo sauce that would make any mobster drool. Can’t decide on which of the pizzeria’s signature pies to order? Pick the half-and-half option to try two and don’t pass up the crispy Garlic Romano fries which are served with a side of ranch.

Urban Architecture and Puppy Shows 

After lunch, continue along Gangnam’s main strip to marvel at some of the neighborhood’s stunning modern architecture. Standing over central Gangnam like a giant cheese grater, Urban Hive is one of the more memorable buildings south of the Han River. Having been erected one floor at a time and entirely from concrete rather than with interior columns or a steel-framed foundation, the building set a new precedent for skyscraper construction in Korea.

The architect, Kim In-chul, also placed much emphasis on the human element when planning the Urban Hive. Included in his award-winning design are a rooftop garden and 3,371 window-like holes that each offer a unique view of the cityscape. Although there’s not much for tourists to do inside, it’s worth stopping by to marvel at its structure.

While pet cafes are becoming increasingly more common throughout the city, no one quite compares to Puppy Spoon. As it name suggests, this dog cafe is full of adorable pups that are eager to cuddle with the cafe’s patrons.

What makes this place different than the rest is the fact that the dogs are incredibly talented and can perform a series of tricks. In fact, when there are at least 10 people in attendance, the dogs hold a show in which they spin, shake and even skateboard. Yes, skateboard!

Cozy Romance 

Although things never seem to slow down in Gangnam, Polaris Spa is a hidden slice of serenity, particularly for couples. The staff has taken great care to ensure that every detail—from the tea candles that spell out “I LOVE YOU” to the gorgeous city views—creates the perfect environment for a romantic and memorable date.

The couple program consists of a foot soak, jacuzzi bath with wine and cheese, back massage, brief nap and paraffin hand treatment. Throughout the duration of the program, couples are encouraged to participate in fun games and write sweet messages to each other to fully get the intended romantic effect, at least one that is quintessentially Korean. Bonus points if you and your partner wear matching undies.

Embrace your inner Rastafarian at Rainbow Hookah Bar, a basement bar that instantly transports visitors to the Caribbean. A colorful, cozy and borderline trippy setup of low tables and cushion seating creates the ideal atmosphere for live music on the weekends.

The place is at once relaxing and energetic, and the menu, which features a variety of cocktails and super-sized bucket drinks (meant to shared) demonstrates that this is a place to get the party started. The hookah options are just as varied, with flavors such as cardamom and rose.

Into the Night 

Grab a bite at Oktoberfest, Korea's first German-style brewery pub which was established long before the craft beer trend took over the city a few years back. In addition to serving hearty entrees of German fare such as sausages and pork knuckle, Oktoberfest makes its own beer and has four varieties on the menu, each of which is served up with warm breadsticks that are ridiculously addicting. To complete the German vibe, waitresses are dressed as German bier frauleins.

Keep your night going by exploring the soju tents and hofs that dot the streets of the Gangnam Station area. Or, if you’re in the mood for dancing, grab a spot in line at Club Mass, the premier electronic house music club in Seoul. As the city’s only club to be open 365 days a year, it is the go-to spot for twenty- and thirty-somethings looking to party the night (and morning) away, on any day of the week.

Two levels are filled with multiple performance stages, dance floors orchestrated by world-class DJs and a VIP lounge, which is available for group bookings.

Although considerably more sterile than Seoul’s northern districts, Gangnam is the place to experience the hubbub of the city and to get a glimpse of where the rest of Korea might just be headed in the very near future.

More Information: Gangnam Station

To Get There: Take the Seoul subway to Gangnam Station (Line 2).

Nearby Neighborhoods: Sinsa-dong, Apgujeong & Cheongdam-dong

Guide Map:

While the above information was accurate at the time of publishing, always be sure to double check for updated addresses, prices and business hours.

Words by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Photos credited to the source. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized. 

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October 16, 2016

The Tale of the Cheonggyechon Tomb Bridge

Many of Seoul's most popular sites don't give much information. Or, should I say, don't give much interesting information.

But Joe McPherson, creator of ZenKimchi, has invested much of his time--years, in fact--into delving into the more sinister stories of the city's past.

He tells these captivating stories on his Dark Side of Seoul Tour, a captivating walk through Korea's historical neighborhoods. The tour is jam packed with scary tales that have never made the pages of guidebooks or travel brochures and are incredibly fascinating.

In the spirit of Halloween, he shares with Seoul Searching readers the story of The Tomb Bridge.

Ever walked along the Cheonggyechon with your lover? 

Then perhaps you will enjoy this little love story about the founder of the Joseon Dynasty, Yi Seong-gye, and his second queen, Sindeok.

Back then, the king had two queens, a queen from Jeonju–the Jeonju Queen–and a queen from Seoul–the Seoul Queen. Sindeok was the latter. She and the king were very much in love.

There were a few who were not so fond of her, however. Among them were the sons of the Jeonju Queen. Their disdain for her was the result of Sindeok promoting her own sons to be ahead of them in line for the throne.

Unfortunately, Queen Sindeok one day became ill and soon thereafter passed away. The king was so heartbroken that he built an elaborate tomb for her on palace grounds, around where the British embassy now stands. This was highly unusual for the time.

As the king was in mourning, his prime minister hatched a plot with Sindeok’s sons to kill the sons of the Jeonju Queen. The fifth son of the Jeonju Queen caught wind of this and convinced his brothers to lead a preemptive strike. They killed Sindeok’s sons.

The king was so horrified that he abdicated the throne and gave it to the oldest heir of the Jeonju Queen. The fifth son, who was the ambitious and crafty one, somehow convinced his older brother to let him have the throne.

After he took over the throne, a flood hit Seoul, washing out Gwangtonggyo Bridge on the Cheonggyecheon Stream. This man hated Queen Sindeok so much that one of his first acts as king was to dismantle her tomb and use the stones, placed upside-down (indicating serious blasphemy), to rebuild it so that people would always walk on top of her grave.

In 2004, it was moved to its current location, about 70 meters east of its original locale, as it was decided it was not able to accommodate today's foot traffic.

To this day, tourists, couples and families walk over it without ever knowing its grim history.

There are, in fact, two plaques located there that tell the story, but describe Sindeok as a concubine rather than a queen. Nevertheless, these often go unread, like many of Seoul's historical sites.

For more interesting stories about the darker side of Korean history, click here. Also, be sure to reserve a spot on the Dark Side of Seoul, which currently runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings throughout October.

Story submitted to Seoul Searching by Joe McPherson. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.

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October 13, 2016

Win 2 Tickets to Grévin Seoul’s Halloween Festivities

Grévin Seoul, Korea’s premiere wax museum, will be hosting a slew of Halloween events throughout the month of October, and Seoul Searching is giving you a chance to partake in the festivities.

Two lucky readers will receive a pair of tickets to visit the museum for the Halloween Zombie Night Tour free of charge on October 29 any time from 6-9pm.

For your chance to win: 

1. Like Seoul Searching on Facebook.

2. In the giveaway post, tag a friend you'd want to have by your side during a zombie attack, and write a reason why they would be a good zombie-fighting partner.

The two winners will be selected at random on Friday, October 21, 2016 and will be notified via Facebook. Tickets will be available for pick-up at Grévin Seoul’s box office at the museum.

Grévin Seoul features an extensive collection of wax figures of the world’s top stars and Hallyu’s biggest names, has been completely transformed with an impressive display of Halloween décor.

Children and families will enjoy the “Find the Halloween Witch” event in which they will be guided through the museum by Grévin’s witches and will also have the opportunity to experience trick-or-treating. The event is on during weekends throughout October from 11am-5pm.

For those that enjoy a bit more fright in their night, Grévin is also hosting a “Halloween Zombie Night Tour” in which the museum’s undead haunts its halls, scaring unsuspecting visitors. To participate, visit the museum on any Saturday in October from 6-9pm.

Plan to spend approximately 1.5-2 hours at the museum to fully enjoy the tour and all that Grévin has to offer.

More Information: Grevin Seoul 

Hours: Mon - Sat 10am - 9 pm; Sun 10am - 6 pm (Last admission 45 minutes before closing time). Note: Hours may differ on holidays. Be sure to check the website for accuracy.

Admission: Adults (19 and older): ₩18,000 Youth (6-18 years) & Seniors (65 and older) ₩15,000; Free for children under 5 years

Address: 23 Euljiro-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Phone: 02.777.4700

Website: Click Here 

Facebook: Click Here (Korean)

Instagram: Click Here

Get There: Take the Seoul subway to Euljiro 1-ga Station. From Exit 1, follow the sidewalk as it veers right for about 3 minutes. The Grevin museum will be on your right, across the street from the Lotte Hotel.

Words by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized. 

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Getting Into the Halloween Spirit, Seoul Style

Halloween isn't a traditional holiday here in Korea but over the past decade or so, it has begun to slowly seep into the nation's culture.

In Seoul, decorations can be spotted in store fronts while costumes can be purchased at supermarkets and speciality stores. Kindergarteners go trick-or-treating at their English hagwons and bars offer cash prizes to the best-dressed vampire, cartoon character or sexy bunny.

In 2016, there are a number of events going on in Seoul around the 31st (including a Halloween booze cruise hosted by Adventure Korea, a slew of parties throughout Seoul's nightlife districts and a Rocky Horror Picture Show production) but if you're like me, you just can't wait until the end of the month to start celebrating.

Check out my suggestions below on how to get into the Halloween spirit, Korean style.

The Dark Side of Seoul

The Korean capital is a beautiful city with lots to see: sparkling skyscrapers, majestic mountains and peaceful palace gardens. Surprisingly (or not), the city has a dark history that very few visitors ever learn about--one that is often not advertised in guidebooks or attraction brochures.

Enter Joe McPherson, founder of ZenKimchi Food Journal and guide of the Dark Side of Seoul walking tour. Modeled after the ghost tours of other big cities, the tour aims to showcase stories of hauntings, murder and sex scandals of the past.

The Dark Side tour has been in operation for just over three years now, but it has already been rated one of the best city tours in Seoul, and it isn't difficult to see why. Joe, who studied Korean history in university, is extremely knowledgeable about the lesser-known aspects of Seoul's history and navigates the dimly-lit back alleys of the city like he's lived here his entire life.

The Dark Side of Seoul tour takes participants to Seoul's most sinister locales.

Joe has a seemingly endless list of ghost stories and urban legends to tell tour participants and conveys them in an entertaining way.

When I joined the tour, our group had an unusual encounter when a fellow tour mate told us she was picking up a lot of energy. This energy, she said, came from a female spirit who followed us up the steps of the palace we visited, but refused to go in. As it turns out, what she felt exactly matched Joe's version of the story. The following night, a few people on the tour picked up light orbs with their cameras in the same place. Creepy!

Join the Dark Side of Seoul Tour, which is held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights in October.  For more information or to make a reservation, click here.

Joe McPherson entertains participants with his interesting and comical Korean ghost stories.

The Sinister Side of Seoul

After checking out the Dark Side of Seoul and exploring the haunted areas downtown, why not create your own ghost tour itinerary and check out a few additional sinister spots around the city, including a prison where the Japanese tortured Korean independence fighters and a mountain where one of the country's most notorious serial killers buried his victims.

For a complete list of these darker corners of Seoul, click here.

Wax Museum Haunts

There's something about wax museums that's,  well... creepy. I mean, just walking through the place makes you wonder if those eerily realistic, life-sized figures come to life when the lights go down and the doors are locked.

The Grevin Museum in Seoul has officially upped the ante with a series of events and activities that will take place there this month.

The entire place has been decked out in Halloween decor and the tour guides will be transformed into zombies on October 15, 22, and 29 from 6-9pm. From 11am-5pm on weekends, families can also go trick or treating throughout the museum with guides donned as witches.

Those that visit on weekdays can enjoy the decorations. Before you leave, be sure to quench your thirst with a special Halloween cocktail at the cafe.


Walk Like a Zombie

Zombie Walk Seoul began in 2012 as the first international zombie walk parade in Korea. The following two years, it took place in Hongdae and last year, over 500 participants donned in tattered clothes and creepy makeup marched through the streets of Shinchon and Hongdae to frighten unsuspecting passers-by.

Image: KimchiBytes
Now in its fifth year, it's expected to be bigger and better than ever. Join Seoul's undead for some Halloween fun on Saturday, October 15 from 3-7pm in Sinchon. For details, click here.

Lotte World Zombie Party

If you can't make the Zombie Walk, or you just can't get enough of zombies, stop by Lotte World in Jamsil in the evenings for a show you'll never forget. Zombies come to life to feast on unsuspecting visitors. Think chainsaws, Walking Dead-like zombie moves and makeup that's the stuff of nightmares.

Also, on October 28-29, Lotte World will host an all-night party til 4am where you can get spooked, check out all the rides (which have been decked out in horror film motif) and enjoy live DJ and hip-hop performances. Get the details and reserve your tickets here.

Everland Horror Village 

Just an hour outside of Seoul is Everland, Korea's answer to Disney World. During the month of October, the entire theme park is transformed into a Halloween wonderland, complete with over-sized jack-o-lantern decorations, a cute parade for children, and the Horror Village, the perfect place to get your Halloween chills and thrills. In 2016, it will operate from September 8 to November 6.

The whimsical decorations, performances and parades at Everland are the perfect way to get into the Halloween spirit.  [Photo: CuteinKorea.com] 

The Horror Village area of the park is open all day but is most fun at night, when a convincing cast of vampires, witches, and seriously freaky female ghosts sneak around in the shadows, terrifying unsuspecting visitors.

There are two horror mazes (open 11am-7pm) in the village that require an additional fee (around 5,000 won) and a wait in a long line but are well worth it.

In Horror Maze 1, your group will be given only a single flashlight to navigate your way through a building constructed to look like a madman's shed of mangled body parts and Frankenstein-like human experiments. Incredibly creepy but so much fun! (Tip: Tickets to the Horror Maze are limited so be sure to book your time as soon as you arrive at Everland.)

Don't miss Everland's Horror Maze I to get your adrenaline pumping.

The Extreme Horror Nights party is also a highlight. On October 22 and 29th, DJs will spin on a skull-adorned stage atop a hill while twenty-somethings (and costumed nurses and doctors) dance below. In past events, there have been a "Nurse's Blood Pub" where beer and snacks can be purchased as well as a face painting booth where visitors can be transformed into zombies with special effects makeup.

DJs spin, zombies dance, and everyone has a good time at the Horror Club Fest.

Additionally, a Horror Safari will take you on a wild ride through African terrain... infested with zombies. For more information on Everland, including admission costs and directions, click here.

Lotte World in Jamsil also has similar events going on throughout the month. For more info, click here.

Horror Movies

If a good horror movie is what it takes to get you into the spirit, you're in luck. In my opinion, Korea does horror movies much better than Hollywood and there are plenty available on the internet with English subtitles.

Check out Death Bell, a classic horror flick set in a high school college exam prep class. A group of elite students are killed off in order of their class rank by a vengeful murderer who promises to continue to take the students' lives one by one unless they answer a set of questions correctly.  The students fight eagerly to discover the motive and the mastermind behind the killings.

Death by fishtank is only one of the famous scenes in Death Bell, a favorite Korean horror flick. [Photo: CultureView.com]
Another personal favorite is A Tale of Two Sisters, a brilliant psychological thriller about suicide, murder and revenge that will keep you on the edge of your seat (and scratching your head at times) with ingenious plot twists and great cinematography.

Doll Master, a film about possessed dolls, is a flick that lacks quality special effects but has a creepy, well executed story. Be sure to visit Hapjeong's Blue Fairy Cafe after watching it for even more creepiness. (Note: As of 2015, Blue Fairy Cafe is now closed.)

Sweet Treats

No Halloween is complete without sweet treats and there are plenty of places in Seoul to pig out on cute, sugar-coated ghoulish goodies.

Monster Cupcakes, located near the main entrance of Gyeongridan, is the place for cupcake fanatics to satisfy their sweet tooth with adorably decorated treats.  Try the tasty Tombstone Tiramisu or the Eyeball Lemon and enjoy the monster-themed cafe decor.

If you can't make it out to Itaewon, visit your local Krispy Kreme for some spooky donuts. Their Real Pumpkin is a cute frosted jack-o-lantern and is stuffed with a sweet pumpkin filling.

Pirates, eyeballs, and Frankenstein cake pops... oh my!

No matter how you celebrate Halloween this year, have fun doing it!! And be sure to watch out for the ghosts and goblins haunting the seemingly serene parks and palaces of the city.  Muahhhhhahahaha.

Words by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching unless otherwise noted. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized. 

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October 11, 2016

Bonum 1957: A Modern Hotel in the Historic Heart of Seoul

One of the great things about Seoul is that it offers a little something for everyone. This also rings true when it comes to accommodation options. And while there are plenty of comfortable spaces to set up camp during your stay in Korea, few are as quaint and conveniently located as Bonum 1957.

Situated in the heart of Bukchon Hanok Village, Bonum 1957 prides itself on its ability to merge the ancient traditions of Korean living with luxurious, modern amenities.

I spent an evening there this past Chuseok and upon entering the hotel gate, I found myself instantly enamored with the place. As I passed by the century-old hanok in the tranquil garden and continued into the hotel and up the marble staircase, I realized there was something special about this place. My assumptions were only confirmed when I entered my second-floor room, which offered a fantastic view of N Seoul Tower and the tiled roofs of the surrounding traditional Korean houses.

My room was beautifully decorated and incorporated Korean themes in a subtle way. The wooden floors, sheer curtains and high-end bath fixtures created a contemporary yet relaxing atmosphere. But despite the modern amenities, there's a ton of history intertwined into the details of the hotel.

These can be found in the chandeliers, which were purchased in London in the 1950s by the current owner's grandfather, a gentleman who resided there throughout the mid-twentieth century. Or the boulder that sits in the garden, which took numerous laborers months to transfer from Bukhan Mountain when the former owner realized he had to have it. Or the hanok's gorgeous antique furniture, which is over a hundred years old.

In fact, history is an important part of the hotel, especially considering the neighborhood where it is located. Nestled in between Gyeongbok and Changdeok Palaces, Bukchon was once the residential area of yangban, or noble-class citizens. Nowadays, it maintains its old-world charm through its beautifully restored Korean homes, many of which have been converted into upscale boutiques and charming cafes.

Just across from the hotel is Gahoe-dong, where visitors can participate in traditional craft workshops led by artisans whose families have carried on the traditions for centuries. It's also within walking distance of Insadong, and a short taxi ride from shopping mecca Myeongdong.

This makes Bonum 1957 a fantastic place for those looking to explore the attractions of downtown. Couples, too, will love the romantic atmosphere the hotel offers.

Although I wasn't on a date, my friend and I enjoyed some much needed girl time at Uva, the hotel's restaurant and cafe. Offering tasty items like sandwiches and pastas, it's the perfect spot for a relaxing lunch in a modern setting. Or, if wine is more of your thing (which was the case for us) you can enjoy a glass (or bottle) on Uva's open-air rooftop. They also do an amazing cup of coffee.

After enjoying a glass of wine, my friend and I brought a bottle of red up to the huge patio attached to my room. We sipped and chatted under the bright harvest moon, which only added to the already perfect atmosphere. By this point, the hotel's hanok was illuminated in all its glory and the towering skyscrapers in the background provided an interesting contrast.

For those staying in rooms without balconies, there's also a communal rooftop with lounge chairs and even a splash pool in the summer. It's really the perfect spot to unwind after a long day of sightseeing.

To wrap up the night, I took a long soak in the tub before hopping into the incredibly comfortable bed. I considered watching a movie on the big-screen TV or connecting to the free WiFi to do a bit of work, but instead opted to crash. This was, after all, a staycation... I couldn't feel guilty about getting too much sleep.

Bonum 1957, with its character, history and attention to detail is a wonderful alternative to the larger, chain hotels that dot the city of Seoul. Furthermore, its convenient location makes it a wonderful option for those looking to be steps away from the city's most treasured landmarks and popular attractions.

More Information: Bonum 1957

Address: 53 Bukchonro, Jongnogu, Seoul, South Korea

Phone: 010-9257-9584

Website: Click Here

Email: Click Here

Prices: Hanok Suite - ₩550,000; Junior Suite - ₩490,000; Double Deluxe - ₩410,000; Double with View - ₩300,000. Check out their Facebook page for ongoing discounts!

Reservations: Call, email or reserve through Booking.com

Words and photos by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized. 

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