Photos by ChiHon Kim

Photos by ChiHon Kim ()

In recent years, shopping malls in the States have started to fall out of fashion due in part to the convenience of online retail. South Korea is no stranger to the loss of interest in the concept of the shopping mall.

Shinsegae Group, a retail giant on the Peninsula, however, is looking to upend the outdated concept with its 2.5-million square foot Starfield Mall, which opened in October. And, don’t expect your average 1980’s-90’s mall experience either!

Starfield is about 20 minutes away from Camp Humphreys and aims to draw not only shoppers, but also entertainment-seekers with its cinema, soccer field, car showroom, library and sauna. But don’t let those interesting additions fool you, this is definitely a place to shop ‘til you drop. Starfield offers over 300 shops, including 70 eateries, so a trip here could easily take up massive amounts of time.

E-mart Traders (subbasement)

Inspired by Costco, the E-mart Traders grocery store in the mall’s subbasement is enormous and makes you feel like you’re inside the warehouse store chain. I visited on a Sunday afternoon and it wasn’t too busy.

From its interior, it’s easy to appreciate just how similar E-mart Traders is to Costco. The food court inside offered inexpensive American classics like pizza, hot dogs, and more. I was immediately tempted to treat myself with a piece of the hot and bubbly bulgogi pizza, but I held strong and continued shopping.

Besides the hot food at the front of the store, the merchandise layout is pretty similar to Costco’s. The E-Mart chain also has a few regular supermarkets you’ll find around the peninsula, but this E-Mart Traders sells products at a better, bulk-shopping discount, so it’s worth a browse.

Also, unlike Costco, E-Mart Traders requires no membership! Check it out and I recommend trying their sushi platters. The quality is superior to Costco’s.

(Hours: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Closed the 2nd and 4th Wednesday)

Aquafield (3F)

  • Indoor water park & rooftop pool: Aquafield is a kid-friendly water park perfect for a relaxing day with family and friends. The area features pools of different depths and even one with a fish tank at the edge to make your kids feel like they’ve taken a deep dive into tropical water. On the rooftop, you’ll find the elegant Infinity Pool, perfect for cooling off in the summer heat. Don’t forget to pick up a refreshment at the beverage bar inside the park before heading to the rooftop. Make note, you’ll have to wait until the summer when the rooftop opens for the season. (Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Price: 40,000 won (or about $36.76) for adults, 35,000 won for children)

  • Steam room and spa: As if retail therapy isn’t enough, Starfield Anseong also features a spa and steam room. Enjoy different themed rooms and treatments while you take a break from the mall. One of the best parts is the foot spa, where you can sit and soak your feet while taking in a view of the mall and surrounding areas. Stop in at the relaxation room and recline while you enjoy the peaceful view. (Price: weekdays - 21,000 won for adults, 17,000 won for children/ on weekends - 23,000 won for adults, 19,000 won for children)

  • Café de Aqua: On the third floor, next to the spa, stop in at this cozy café with beautiful fish tanks on its walls. Café de Aqua offers a range of teas and other drinks on the menu to help continue that theme of relaxation.

(Price range: 5,000 – 7,000 won)

Note: Please follow base guidelines for COVID-19 restrictions. In particular, spa use is off-limits at this time, so make plans to visit when it’s safe to do so.

What to eat

From Japanese food to Indian food, burgers, and more, Starfield boasts not one but two food courts, making it the ultimate foodie paradise. Try some of these good picks to help you find a spot to eat before hitting the mall.

Eatopia (2F)

  • Sima Sushi: You’ll find this sushi chain in Eatopia’s center. Like the standard sushi conveyor belt restaurant you’ll find anywhere, the sushi quality here is average at best. Each plate is color-coated to mark the different price points. Plan to spend around 2,000 won (or about $1.84) to 8,000 won per plate, depending on the type of fish. I tried the Hawaiian salmon rice bowl with avocado, salmon, seaweed, and many veggies for 11,000 won. This bowl was tasty and worth the price for me. If you’re in the mood for no-frills Japanese-style sushi, give this a try.

  • Agra: As the only location serving Indian food at the mall, this place seems to have reasonable prices on its menu. They have a wide variety of curry options. I’m definitely going back to try this next time. One of the menu's signature items is the butter chicken makhani and a special salad with fresh fruits and veggies.

  • Ohansu Wuyukmyenga: This chain is a well-known beef noodle shop around the peninsula. When I visited this location, I ordered a set menu with Hong Kong beef noodles and fried dumplings for 11,500 won. The noodles had a delicious, hearty chewiness and paired well with the tender beef. And, if you’re really hungry, you can get free rice and noodle refills. And while all of those are good, it’s Ohansu Wuyukmyenga’s juicy fried dumplings that steal the show. The large meaty dumplings were delightful! This restaurant will give you a lot of bang for your buck, so go grab some noodles without costing you too much!

  • Nanny’s Burger: This popular burger joint was born in Pan-gyo, a rapidly-growing city in the Gyeonggi-do area. As I was browsing Eatopia to pick where I’d eat, the burgers being served at the tables looked insanely delicious. It seems like it’s slightly more expensive than a regular fast-food burger spot, but worth every penny. I definitely made a note to hit this up soon!

Gourmet Street & CITY MARKTET (1F)

On the first floor, gourmands will want to head to Gourmet Street for the upscale, futuristic feel and upper scale eateries housed here. You can enjoy homestyle Japanese dishes at Tokkijeong, perfectly prepared Japanese cutlet at Hibarin, or tasty Chinese food at Sanghealu.

There are tons of casual dining and grab and go options at City Market. I grabbed an assortment of irresistible fried tofu rice balls from the pick-up stand at Doje and truly enjoyed every bite. And don't forget to get some tasty fried-dumplings at I-an-lu's food stand.

Star Observatory (3-4F)

After perusing Gourmet Street, take the elevators at the Star Observatory entrance to the third floor for a view from 63 meters above. You can look through the window down into the street and surrounding landscape from the 3rd floor. Open the wooden gate and go up the steps to the top, then you’ll find Gabeado, a charming café, offering a cup of tea with a bird’s-eye view of Anseong.

Taking your dog shopping

Starfield Anseong is probably one of the most dog-friendly malls in South Korea. Keep an eye out for signs if you plan to bring your furry friend, as only certain floors or areas are designated to allow Fido. There are stickers and signage on the floors and plastic bags for your dog’s business near the escalators. Dogs must be on leashes or in carriers. Also, there are many dog-friendly dining spaces, a pet café, and an outdoor dog park to include your pup in a fun day of shopping.

Starfield Anseong

• ADDRESS: 스타필드 안성 [ENG] 3930-39, Seodong-daero, Gongdo-eup, Anseong-si, Gyeonggi-do, [KOR] 경기 안성시 공도읍 서동대로 3930-39 [NAVER MAP] http://naver.me/FVe1WroP

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (E-mart Traders 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.), Open year round

PHONE: 1833-9001

• WEBSITE: https://www.starfield.co.kr/anseong/main.do

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