South Korea 2015 Part 17 – SMTown & COEX Mall

This is part of an ongoing travelogue, to start at the beginning click here.

After a rather heavy lunch, we walked further up the street to the main road to catch a bus to COEX Mall. Unfortunately, this was the only time my research on Google Maps failed me. The bus that we were supposed to catch was not listed at the bus stop. Korea has a very sophisticated bus system – most bus stops have a list of all the buses that stop there, and a diagram showing their route. Some bus stops even have a scrolling LED sign showing you when the next bus will arrive.

So anyway, a little stumped, we decided to take a cab. Cab turned out to be a nice elderly guy dressed in turtleneck. He dropped us off at the World Trade Centre in COEX.

(Gangnam is a really swanky business district)

It is here we found out that COEX is really a big big place. Think bigger than Mid Valley City. There is a World Trade Centre, offices, performance centre, hotel, underground mall, etc. And our cab dropped us off at the wrong end.

(this is the other end, you need to be on the other side)

But no worries, we just walked around the buildings, enjoying the art installations.



Our destination was SMTown COEX Artium, which occupies their own small building in the complex.


What’s SMTown, you ask? It’s a of a theme park for K-Pop, so to speak. That’s how they describe it in the website, but it’s really not a theme park. Well, if you’re a K-Pop fan (specifically, SM Entertainment K-Pop) this is the place to be.

The Artium is actually a very small building, thin and goes up to 5 floors. Upon entering, there’s a large video screen welcoming you.

(apparently, this is Choi Minho)

So what can you do here? Well, if you pay the fee, you can get your make up and hair done, and get dance lessons, record your own song (or sing karaoke to someone’s hit), shoot your own video, etc. If you are lucky, you can walk pass some famous star who are recording in the other studios. Or you can watch a play by featuring some up-and-coming K-pop stars. At the time, they were running the musical called School OZ. If you are NOT paying any fees (like US), you can still walk around the 6 floors and see everything that’s going on. There’s a large gift shop (where they sell lots of cool stuff), a café where you can sit at the table and watch videos on your own personal iPad, and loads of photos and posters everywhere.

(no idea who’s who. they all look alike to me)

(photos everywhere!)

(this area is for the rich people who want to star in their own K-pop video)

(there’s a new Girl’s Generation member!)




(the café where you can enjoy snacks. No empty table so we didn’t buy anything)

Outside the Artium there’s a giant bobblehead exhibition going on.


After SMTown we went next door to COEX Mall, Seoul’s biggest underground mall where it stretches over 2 subway stations. It’s a pretty nice mall, but we didn’t really feel like shopping much. The main reason we went was to look for bingsu to eat. We’ve been wanting to try this dessert, and it was until the last day here we found a shop!


(the left is mango cheese and right is Oreo)

We also passed by this bookstore where lots of young girls were standing around with satchels and stools, waiting for something. I wonder what? Were they waiting for someone to appear? I guess i’ll never know.


Next – Last dinner in Korea

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