Ultimate Guide to Korea Part 3:
Millennials Hit the Streets of Gangnam
The streets of Gangnam hum with activity in the morning, with commuters making a run for the subway or rushing to grab a cup of coffee. By afternoon, the area is teeming with people out shopping and meeting friends. But at night, there’s an explosion of energy. The main streets and tiny alleys light up with neon signs, the sidewalks overflow with people, and a current of energy pulsates throughout the area.
Gangnam can mean a lot of things. It literally means south of the river and can refer to a cluster of districts south of Seoul’s Han River, or even just one of them, Gangnam District. But to many Seoulites, it will mean the area surrounding Gangnam subway station – the perfect place to experience everything from fashion to food and entertainment, especially at night.
The Gangnam station area spans multiple blocks and has everything you could possibly need, including a group of major language academies, which attract college students in droves. This explains why so many businesses in the area cater to young customers who are looking to strike an ever-difficult balance between maximum fun and minimum cost.
The Best of K-Style with Superstar Stylists
If you’re wondering how an average Korean in their 20s has a good time in Gangnam, venture out in the afternoon and experience things firsthand.
Your first stop should be clothes. With the latest K-style trends evolving so rapidly, there’s nothing better than getting a snapshot of what’s all the rage. 8Seconds is the perfect destination for that, with its selection of casual classics that come with a subtle twist or out-of-left-field outfits for more whimsical dressers.
To help customers immerse themselves in the world of K-style, the fashion brand has teamed up with leading stylists such as Hye-yeon Han, commonly described as a “superstar stylist,” having worked with top celebrities like Lee Hyo-ri, Gong Hyo-jin, and Han Ji-min.
Throughout September, customers can take advantage of a number of outfits handpicked by the celebrity stylist as part of the brand’s #My8Style event. Han offers six suggestions for different time, place, and occasion. For example, you can spruce up your look ahead of a date, fun activities over the weekend, a day at the office, and more, all at the four-story store, sitting on the main strip of Gangnam.
Last month, Han even held a special styling session with 60 customers at the Myeongdong flagship store, offering personal tips for the attendees. Adding to Han’s trove of outfits, award-winning stylist Soo-kyung Seo – the mastermind behind K-pop group Girls’ Generation’s pizazz on stage – will also present a number of wardrobe suggestions as well.
Multiple Rooms, Multiple Options
Once you have your style set, it’s time to explore the streets of Gangnam. The neighborhood is lined not only with an endless number of shops but also an interesting array of indoor entertainment venues.
How about sitting down at a board game cafe, where you can choose from shelves stacked with all kinds of brain-racking games and puzzles? If you’re more of a video game person, there are also options for you. Some places known as “multi-rooms” offer areas to play video games, watch movies, or even take a nap.
There are also cafes that specialize in fortune telling if you’re looking for some insight into your future. The types of readings differ, ranging from tarot and face readings to Bazi, which uses your time, date, and year of birth.
Another option is to add some action to the day at a screen baseball studio. Following the screen golf boom from many years ago, screen baseball has now become one of the more recent trends. Some studios even serve “chimaek” – the lip-smacking pairing of fried chicken and beer – for hungry customers.
Light on the Wallet but Not on Options
Emerge from all the indoor fun, and you’ll find a sea of people milling around the back alleys, looking for dinner and good drinks. With the area being so popular among university students and people in their 20s, you’ll find plenty of eateries and pubs with attractive deals.
Some places have all-you-can-drink offerings with a wide selection of alcoholic beverages, including fruit-infused soju cocktails and smoothie-inspired makgeolli (Korean rice wine) drinks. There’s also no shortage of cuisines, ranging from traditional Korean dishes to Italian, Chinese and a variety of pan-Asian fusion dishes.
As you wrap up your night, don’t forget to capture the excitement on camera. The main road running down the center of Gangnam offers a great vantage point, or if you happen to be up in one of the high-rises, enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the vibrant streets, brimming with around-the-clock fun.