Myeongdong area in Seoul is an all-around great place to visit. Its glittering streets feature both high end and budget shopping, row after row of killer street food vendors (i.e. stuffed clams and fresh pomegranite juice), and not to mention random celebrity sightings. But the area that I really love in this trendy shoppers haven is the quiet yet colorful Zaemiro street aka Seoul Comics Road.
Featuring statues, signs, and street art, Zaemiro is lined with art from comics and animations around the world. It’s a somewhat meandering street and at times not the most pedestrian-friendly, but that’s in part what gives it its charm. A trip there gives you a chance to explore–you never quite know where you’ll find the next art installation. And the work itself ranges from cute and conventional to wtf (beefcake Pikachu? ehhh).
There are so many wonderful and breathtaking things to explore in Aeoul, but I’ve realized that while traveling in general, one should never set their expectations too high. As someone who’ll soon be able to say that she’s visited all of the countries she’s dreamt of seeing since she was a child (Korea being one, Japan the other) I’m working on perfecting this whole “reasonable expectations” thing. I bring this up because I have accounts to share about my two recent adventures–to the Hello Kitty Cafe and to Seoul Comic World. Some aspects of my adventures were surprisingly amazing, while others, not so much. Let me elaborate ^^
HELLO KITTY’S PINK-HUED PANDEMONIUM
The Hello Kitty Cafe is a cotton candy-hued building nestled away in a hilly side street in Hongdae. I’ve been there twice–on a Saturday and Sunday–and as one might expect, the experience varied drastically depending on the day. It’s a sought after destination for tourists and kawaii girls no matter what day, but if you show up on a Saturday, anticipate that it could be a madhouse.
When it comes to underground subcultures, there are a couple of things you may not have known about South Korea. Earnest, unironic ska music is alive and well (no really, it is), they have a unified hardcore scene, a small but incredibly alive and welcoming punk scene, but their goth scene is uh…kind of in the dark.
That being said, I was incredibly excited to recently find the dark clothing and accessory shop, GothPunk, located in Hongdae, Seoul. It’s a small but well-stocked shop full of goth import items from popular brands such as Kreepsville 666, Alchemy Gothic, Vivienne Westwood, Anna Sui, 6% doki doki, and h. Naoto, just to name a few. A goth clothing store is an incredibly unique find in South Korea. You’d be hard-pressed to find more than a handful of Korean people who have even heard the term “goth” before, and when I asked about local goth parties or meetups, D’arc, the owner of GothPunk laughed before he uttered the devastating words, “I think goth in Korea is done.”
As D’arc and I talked further, I started to get the impression that goth wasn’t so much “done” in Korea, as much as it’s lying dormant, due to a recession. GothPunk used to share the streets of Hongdae with another goth shop, Beetlejuice, but that storefront has recently closed its doors. Tak explained that he felt like traditional goth was over, but that’s not to say a new incarnation of the subculture may not reemerge. (more…)
Happy Holidays! First off, can I just start out with a tip for everyone? It’s a no brainer, really, but when you’re getting ready to travel, whether it be around the holidays or not, by all means make a list. And even after you do make a list of everything you need, go back and make sure you indeed did pack what you thought, and your eyes did not deceive you.
I bring this up because I’ll go right ahead and admit that this photoset was supposed to look different. No major issue–I’m happy with the end result, but I did this shoot over the Thanksgiving holiday, and as I packed the outfit I put together right before traveling, not only did I forget a piece of it, I grabbed the wrong wig as well (“major fail” I hear you thinking to yourself). Apparently I’m partially colorblind, and think a purple wig is a blue wig, or else my apartment has worse lighting than I realize. Either way, lesson learned, figured I’d pass that painfully obvious yet crucial advice to double check your luggage (I see you rolling your eyes, thinking “well DUH”).
The shoot ended up a bit more cutesy Lolita than expected, but hey, I rolled with it.
The wig is from Gothic Lolita Wigs, the dress is vintage, and the hairbow is from Rakuen. The shrug is offbrand, my apron is handmade, and “Maybelline Color Show Nail Falsies” (seemingly no longer available, according to Maybelline’s site) allowed me to pretend I had lovely nails for the day. (more…)
Lately my greatest love has been Kdramas (Korean television dramas). One day I stumbled upon one (Shut Up and Let’s Go) on Netflix, and from that point forth they’re basically all I watch. I won’t go on about them too much, because I realize romantic melodrama isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I will say there’s one I love so much I decided to create a mini event around it, to both celebrate and soften the blow of the series’ finale.
Innocent, comedic (both intentional and unintentional) and immensely heartwarming, Boys Over Flowers started as a guilty pleasure, but now I’ll unashamedly state that it’s one of the best programs I’ve ever seen. It can be described as a modern-day Cinderella story with multiple princes, or else Twilight without the supernatural aspects and far better acting–but however you put it, it’s basically the story of a poor girl who steals the hearts of a bunch of self-absorbed, out-of-touch rich dudes, and a long, overly-complicated love triangle ensues.
This past weekend I prepared a Boys Over Flowers-themed picnic (I sure do love me a themed party, dinner, anything). Nothing too over-the-top, but with themed food and attire. With my personal motto being “the more dramatic the better,” my original intention was to cosplay as the lead character, Geum Jan-di, but my school uniform was a bit too slow shipping from Japan, so plans changed. Instead, my friend and I donned summery outfits inspired and color-coordinated to match our favorite male counterparts of the show’s love triangle. Here’s Alisha’s light and lovely Yoon Ji-hoo attire.
And I, always clad in black and a fan of the bad boy in any love story, wore a look inspired by character, Goo Jun-pyo.
I bring it up because I’m guilty of it myself, but more importantly, because I care. Last year I was stubborn. I didn’t care to conform to the changing weather–I decided that the sun should somehow conform to me. I worn tight black bustiers in the sweltering heat, black tights under shorts with knee-high boots, and I refused to stop layering. But my friends, you deserve more than constant discomfort. You don’t deserve sweat pooling down your back or forced smiles to prevent those around you from saying “I told you so”. Instead of fighting summertime, embrace it and learn to work with, not against it.
Dress: h. Naoto / Hat: Payless / Sandals: Offbrand
As I say all of this, realize that I have a primarily black wardrobe, and have no intentions of changing that. What you need to rethink in the summertime is not necessarily colors, but fabrics and fits. Think breathability, movement, and if you’re going to wear something fitted take advantage of light fabrics, cutouts, and short hems. And c’mon, if the temperature exceeds 80 degrees, take some time to seriously reconsider anything involving boning, pvc, lace sleeves, latex, or shoes that lace up beyond the knee…
It’s hard to know where to start. I’m almost tempted to say “what happens at AnimeNext, stays at AnimeNext,” or “the first rule of anime conventions: don’t talk about anime conventions.” But I won’t cop out, especially since I took so many pics of my adventures. Though even with a full con recap, there are still some things that can’t truly be explained, and you just had to see for yourself. For example, watching Link and Hello Kitty have a krump-off while two young vocaloids squeeled with glee from the sidelines is the kind of stuff dreams are made of. And cosplay burlesque–I definitely didn’t expect to see Richter Belmont whipping the clothes off of sexy vampires, or April O’ Neil gyrating in turtle pasties…
Atmosphere, Events, and Antics
I take it for granted that people reading this already know what an anime con is, but if not, it’s basically a convention for all things relating to Japanese animation, manga (Japanese comics), gaming, and even branching out to include Japanese music, fashion, and some Korean pop culture. I’ve been to regular comic conventions in the past, but this is not the same, with the glaring difference being the amount of cosplay. If you don’t show up in costume, you’re in the minority.
My two greatest loves these days, style-wise, are skeletal accessories and rockin a faux undercut. Well, the skeleton accessories–nothing new there, but it wasn’t until just recently that I realized how damn easy it is to fake the dramatic hairstyle. There are four basic steps: Part, Tuck, Spray, Pin. Continue on for more details…
As wonderful as the Simpsons are, I never anticipated they’d be having such a street fashion moment. If you’re a Simpsons fan, now’s the time to stock up, because the internet is currently brimming with unique and affordable designs.
As a kid I watched The Simpsons religiously, collected the kid’s meal toys, and this year I rediscovered the comics (along with my other love, Betty & Veronica), so I was happy to rep my Springfield fandom and add a bit of much-needed color to my wardrobe.
Our subcultural landscape has become so flooded that there are an increasing amount of discrepancies over whether recently emerging subcultures truly exist or whether they’re simply hipster indulgences taken too far. Just because the New York Times wrote about Seapunk, does that really make it a thing? And do I need to acknowledge Street Goth just because people blog about it?
While these are both questions up for debate, I’m certain there’s one thing we can all agree on, and that is the legitimacy of the underground Mummy Punk scene, and the need for Mummy Punk to grow and expand into a more visible subculture.
Unlike jokey flash in the pan subcultural movements, Mummy Punk is not only grounded in fashion, but also music, history, and cinematic lore. But while I could regale you with a long essay about the history, you’re most likely here for the fashion, so here’s a short, basic primer for those new to the scene:
The Fashion: While there is no absolutely definitive Mummy Punk look, the style is often defined by deconstruction, asymmetry, tattered fabrics, bandage-print, and gauze.