Summer spots in Seoul
While heading for famous vacation spots bustling with people is a good idea, why not find unique getaways in the city for a special summer far away from the army of parasols along the coast? Keep reading for some Seoul summer spots where the air is cool and the iced coffee cooler.
Platoon Kunsthalle – A cultural space pushing the boundaries of art
Uniquely built of 28 ISO cargo containers, Platoon Kunsthalle is operated by Platoon, a group dedicated to non-mainstream cultural campaigns. The containers, which are the main construction material, aptly express the philosophy of the group to break stereotype ideas for a more open line of communication. Platoon Kunsthalle is a special cultural space that values exhibition itself rather than space. Depending on the day’s events, the space takes on the functions of a gallery, a bar, café, workshop, party venue, club, performance space, or library.
First established in Berlin, Germany, the structure in Seoul is Platoon Kunsthalle’s second location. Since its opening in April 2009, this unique cultural space has drawn visitors from all over the world as it often hosts events that cross cultural barriers. Four galleries on the first floor, which are on the street side of the building, present the works of young upcoming artists. The interior space is a café and bar that serves coffee, beer, cocktails, and German food.
On the second floor, there is a small sitting room with books on art and four art studios. These studios are given rent-free to young, talented artists from Korea and abroad who have been awarded the opportunity to stay for up to six months creating works of art. At the conclusion of their stay, these works will be exhibited on the first floor.
On weekend nights, Platoon Kunsthalle turns into a club scene, and on the first Saturday of every month, a flea market is organized with a number of unique products up for sale. Also on the schedule are independent films, indie bands and multi-media performances designed to push the boundaries of what is considered “art.” Though the space may at times seem wild, Platoon Kunsthalle offers the opportunity to spend a summer day in freedom and explore your artistic sensibilities.
☞ Location: 5, Eonjuro 148-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
☞ Tel: +82-2-3447-1191~7 (Korean, English)
☞ Hours: 11:00–01:00 (Closed on Sundays)
☞ Webpage: http://www.kunsthalle.com (Korean, English)
☞ Getting there: Hakdong Station (Seoul Subway Line 7), Exit 10. Walk for about 200m and cross the street. Turn left and walk down for another 600m. Turn right at the corner where Hana Bank is located and walk down the street to find Platoon Kunsthalle.
Hongdae Sangsangmadang – Combining art and Hongdae’s youthful vibe
Located in Hongdae, Sangsangmadang is a multi-cultural space run by KT&G. Hongdae Sangsangmadang is housed in an eleven-floor building with seven floors above ground and four below ground. The building features a theater, performance hall, design shops, galleries, studios, and cafes. This establishment supports the creative activities of artists and offers the public a chance to enjoy various forms of art.
Come and enjoy exhibitions, performances, movies, and other cultural activities in this cultural space that shines with great ideas. Visiting Hongdae Sangsangmadang is a great way to escape the sizzling summer heat of Seoul. Note that the cafes, galleries, and design shops open after noon.
The Design Square on the first floor shines with unusual style and original ideas. All the design products on exhibit are for sale. The space exhibits the works of a new designer every two to three weeks. The gallery on the second and third floors features special exhibitions with a different theme each time, such as media art, illustration, or calligraphy. Most works are of emerging artists. The exhibitions are organized in tandem with performances, seminars, or concerts to further engage the public into the exhibitions.
The theater on the fourth floor of the basement level is dedicated to independent artistic films from various countries. Visitors can enjoy rare movies with a unique theme in a cozy environment that is very different from the large, impersonal multiplex theaters.
KT&G Sangsangmadang – Hongdae
☞ Location: 65, Eoullimmadang-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul
☞ Tel: +82-2-330-6205 (Korean, English)
☞ Webpage: http://www.sangsangmadang.com (Korean)
☞ Getting there: Hongik University station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exit 9. Walk 150m straight ahead and turn left. Walk 150m more and cross the street. Walk on to the Tony Moly alley, and Sangsang Madang is located 400m ahead.
Times Square – From dining and shopping to entertainment and relaxation
Opened in September 2009, Times Square is a gigantic mall with department stores, a hotel, shopping malls, theaters, and a discount shopping mart all under one roof. The Main Atrium, which is the center of Times Square, stretches up five stories to meet a glass ceiling, filling the spacious interior with natural light. Take your time to explore all that Times Square has to offer. Visit the Ecology Park, square, fountain, or roof-top garden to experience the greener side of this major shopping complex.
● Namu Geuneul – A gallery, bookstore & eco-park all in one place
The book café Namu Geuneul is located inside Times Square’s Ecology Park. The café has paintings by famous artists and books for visitors to enjoy while relaxing in the café. The building in which the café is housed was built in 1936 and was home to Gyeongseong, Korea's first textile manufacturing plant. Part of the café has even been designated a national cultural asset. Every order comes with refillable house coffee and bread/toast.
● ”I like Dalki” Kids' Park – A day of fun for the kids
Located on the second basement floor of Times Square, “I like Dalki” is a children's playground featuring the famous Korean logo-turned-cartoon character, “Dalki”. The children’s playhouses, classrooms, and other play facilities create a unique space for children to have fun and develop their curiosity, creativity, and motor skills.
☞ Location: 15, Yeongjung-ro, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul
☞ Tel: +82-2-2638-2000 (Korean)
☞ Hours: 10:30–22:00 (Open year-round)
☞ Webpage: http://www.timessquare.co.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ Getting there: Yeongdeungpo Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 5. 5 min on foot using the direct underground connection
☞ Admission: Children (12 months-12 years of age) 12,000won / Adults 3,000won for two hours / 500 won additional for each 10 minutes after (applies to kids only) *Children must be accompanied by adults.
*No re-entry after exiting.
☞ Related page: Times Square
DDP – A landmark of Korean design
Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) officially opened its doors to the public on March 21, 2014. The acronym DDP also stands for 'Dream', 'Design', and 'Play,' and represents the plaza's function as a multi-purpose design center that aims to foster innovation, creativity and talent. Designed by renowned Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, the DDP was built on a 62,957 square-meter site. The plaza, with its four above-ground stories and three underground levels, is characterized by the lack of straight lines, a curved shape, and a three-dimensional atypical architecture that make everything in sight blend seamlessly.
From the curved windows to the coiling staircase, the absence of angles gives the impression that there is no beginning and end. The interior is divided into five themed areas that serve as an international meeting venue, a concert hall, and a learning space supporting children’s creativity and imagination. At the Design Market, visitors can find some restaurants, cafes, and multi-brand shops.
Dongdaemun Design Plaza
☞ Location: 281, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
☞ Tel: +82-2-2153-0000 (Korean)
☞ Hours: 10:00–19:00 (Tue, Thu, Sat, Sun)/ 10:00–21:00 (Wed, Fri)
*Closed on Mondays, January 1st, national holidays (Chuseok, Seollal)
*Some areas are open all year round
☞ Webpage: http://www.ddp.or.kr (Korean)
☞ Getting there: Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (Seoul Subway Line 2, 4, 5), Exit 1
Other Places of Interest
● Lotte World Indoor Ice Skating Rink
Located on the third basement level of Lotte World Theme Park, the indoor ice skating rink is open year-round. The rink is popular both in winter as well as in summer, when the ice provides a refreshing retreat from the heat. Seats are available around the rink and the rink side restaurants serve up delicious international cuisine. A trip to Lotte World Indoor Ice Skating Rink is a great one-day getaway for families and couples.
Lotte World Indoor Ice Skating Rink
☞ Location: B3 of Lotte World, 240, Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul
☞ Tel: +82-2-411-2000 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ Hours: Mon–Fri: 11:00–22:30 (Jul, Aug, late Dec–Feb) / Mon–Fri: 11:00-21:30 (rest of the year) / Weekends and national holidays 10:00–21:30
☞ Admission fee: (includes skate rental) Adults and teenagers 15,000 won / Children 14,000 won
☞ Webpage: http://www.lotteworld.com/icerink/ (Korean)
☞ Getting there: Jamsil Station (Seoul Subway Line 2 or 8), Exit 4. The skating rink is directly connected to the basement plaza