Saturday, April 4, 2015

SMTown - a K-Pop Fan's Heaven

I had an interesting evening adventure this past week, thanks to the KTO. They offered up a K-Pop experience and a moonlit tour of a palace just for foreigners, so I jumped at the chance! They were two very different experiences, so I've decided there will need to be two separate blog posts - here's part one:

SMTown at the COEX Artium

I took the subway to the Gangnam area and headed to the COEX Mall for some K-Pop inspired fun. Coming directly out of Samseong Station, from the ramp between exits 5 and 6, you run smack dab into the Artium.

There are six floors in the SMTown complex, all dedicated to a different K-Pop inspired opportunity.  I entered at the 1st floor staging area and headed up the escalators to explore the other zones.

The walls and display cases are full of SMTown artists' memorabilia, trophies, and pictures. 

The 2nd floor houses SUM, a shop dedicated to your SM celebrity items. You can find so many different things - shirts, hats, magnets, paper products, posters...and there were even a few traditional Korean souvenirs thrown into the mix.

My personal favorite were the large photo pillows...just perfect for snuggling 
with your favorite K-Pop star.    :)

The 3rd floor is the SMTown Studio - make an appointment and you too can look, feel, and sound like a K-Pop star! Have your hair done, learn some moves, and make a recording and video.

I checked in with the event coordinator and then stopped for a quick snack at the SMTown LIVErary Cafe on the 4th floor. It's decked out with some statues, interesting facts about various artists, interactive screens, has autographed chairs and tables, and of course, there are some items to eat.

In addition to coffee drinks, there were music group themed cakes, cupcakes, and candy treats. The order pager was pretty cool - it played K-Pop videos until your order was ready:

The cupcakes have a special hat on top for different groups (which is why I think they were priced at 8,000 won!). I honestly could not tell if it was a keepsake or edible hard candy...and while people watching, I saw that I wasn't the only one who sat studying the topper and trying to gnaw on it a bit. I ended up leaving mine for the trash.

Soon it was time to venture upstairs to the theater on levels 5 and 6 - not just any theater, but a hologram theater. You might remember I had attended something like this last year, so I had a bit of an idea of what to expect.

The 5th floor was home to a giant K-Pop poster collection - many people were taking pictures with them. You could also purchase a print - for the bargain price of 150,000 won ($150).

On the 6th floor there is a 3D printing area - where I guess you could replicate your favorite K-Pop star to take home with you? Oh, my!

There was also a fun little Trick Art area:

Selfie time!

We waited while being entertained with K-Pop music videos - which I do enjoy. K-Pop music is catchy and reminiscent of fun 80/90s boy and girl band music from the US - good times, good times.

I wandered a bit more, saw a hand print gallery, took a free photo at the theater's booths, and scoped out the autographs on the lobby benches.

Then it was time for the show. I could not take any pictures (I don't think they would have come out very well if I had tried anyway). The hologram show was called "Girl Story" and was a platform to show performances by various SM groups. There was a general story running throughout the event about a set of human-looking robots (made by a man named Gepetto) that needed to find hidden keys to feel emotions, save each other, and become real. In between each story segment there was a music video with special effects. Groups showcased included EXO, Girls Generation, SHINee, f(x), TVXQ, and Super Junior. I did manage to find a Youtube promo clip - which you can see here:

We also saw a preview for a new K-Pop Hologram Musical called "School Oz" - yes, a hologram musical! What?!?

Here's a portion of the synopsis from the flyer, 'cause I just have to share:
"In the 10th century AD, as the dark energies of aggression and war became rampant in the human world, the Black Witches who use the forbidden black magic gained power, causing misfortunes and disasters across the world. In search of powerful magic to save the world, righteous wizards approach the legendary Great Wizard of Oz. Oz is enlightened by the visit and sets up the magic school, maintaining peace by creating the ultimate magic called the [Sun Scroll] that condenses all energies..." 
At this point, it appears that the Black witches want the power, start a war, and Oz hides the scroll...waiting for a great knight to find it and restore order. But then it seems Dorothy gets kidnapped...and the adventure begins...

Here's another Youtube promo clip:

I honestly don't know if I'd like it or not...but it's a musical, people, and with the holographic effects they can throw in, I might just have to go see it!  :)

Either way, I had a fun time visiting SMTown.

Stay tuned for Part Two of my nighttime adventure - a moonlight tour of Changdeokgung...

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