Seoul Lantern Festival and Other Weekend Fun

There’s definitely plenty to do in Seoul on weekends. Friday night we were already thinking of checking out the pedestrian area along Cheonggyecheon Stream, which runs for about 5.8 km through the middle of a major busy avenue, and then I read in the latest issue of 10 Magazine that the annual Seoul Lantern Festival was currently taking place. Perfect! (Note: 10 Magazine is really great, with info on upcoming events, nightlife, restaurants, arts, culture and entertainment.) It was pretty crowded, but still fun to see so many colorful lanterns lighting up the night. It went on for miles, so we didn’t walk the whole thing, but here’s a glimpse (sorry some of these are dark, it’s tricky getting an iPhone camera to adjust just right). Oh yes, and it was FREE:

We ended the evening with some Korean BBQ at Mapogalmaegi and a nice stroll back to our place. I know it’s hard to believe, but the food was just OK. >< The first round of cuts was good, but then…meh. So we’re definitely on the hunt for better Korean BBQ places. Come on, we’re in Seoul! If you have any recommendations, please let us know in the comments section.

Last night we headed to I’Park Mall, located at Yongsan Station, to go to the movies. First movie theater experience in Seoul. We had some time to kill before the movie and were exploring the — ahem — 8 levels of stores at the mall, when we stumbled across a Studio Ghibli museum exhibit! I’ve only seen a few of their movies (“My Neighbor Totoro,” “Ponyo” and “Howl’s Moving Castle”), but Will’s a big fan, he’s seen more of their films. We paid a reasonable admission fee and went in. They’ve basically recreated scenes from several of their films with beautiful, detailed sets, some of them animated, some pieces interactive. And then there was a gift shop, of course, with lots of adorable Totoro stuff and whatnot.

The movie experience at CGV Yongsan IMAX did not disappoint. The seats did sell out fast, but sitting in the third row didn’t feel as close to the screen as it does in U.S. theaters. The snack stand had most of what you’d expect, salty popcorn, caramel popcorn, soda, nachos, etc., but… no candy! Interesting. It’s fine, I satisfied my sweet tooth with the caramel corn, which was delish. The seats were really comfy and, oh, there was no intermission halfway through the movie like there was when we went to the movies in Hong Kong. As for the movie, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1”? Will gave it a C. I’m pretty sure the cost of the tickets and movie snacks totaled much less than back home, too, which is always a plus. One more thing — previews started earlier than we’re used to. Before the time on the ticket. Just fyi.

All in all, it’s nice to have lots of options for things to do on the weekends. We’re in a big city, so I’m not surprised there’s always some event or something going on, but I like it.

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