Exploring Seoul’s Hello Kitty Cafe and Comic World

June 23, 2014 | Posted by rissvandal

fdThere 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

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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.

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As for the decor, it’s absolutely everything a Hello Kitty Fan could want. Kitty tables and chairs, cute kitty merch and memorabilia, and even the bathrooms are adorable.

DSC_1107As for the cafe’s culinary offerings–they’re as cute as you could imagine–kitty cakes, kitty waffles, and finely stenciled kitty lattes.

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Within 15 seconds of entering the place you’ll get drunk on its cuteness, believe me, but that being said, don’t allow yourself to believe you’ve been swept away into a ideal kawaii wonderland–it’s ultimately a busy cafe, and an unfortunately understaffed one at that. It seemed like 100% of the staff were serving up drinks and pastries behind the counter, leaving trashcans overflowing, tables unclean, and spilled drinks on counters and floors going unnoticed for the duration of our stay. 1

DSC_1081As for food and drinks–choose wisely. As a novelty destination, the main draw of the Hello Kitty Cafe is its cuteness, not its high quality food. The coffees and frozen yogurt are fine, not amazing, but no major complaints there. But my tiramisu tasted purely like warm egg yolks, so much so that it was inedible, and my friend abandoned her chocolate cake after one bite.

DSC_1101Complaints aside, I actually would still go to the Hello Kitty Cafe again, but I’d just go on a low-traffic day and stick to the drink menu. It’s cute as hell when customers haven’t made a mess of the place, and the cafe definitely offers some adorable photo ops.

SEOUL COMIC WORLD

Though when it comes to good photo ops, nothing really beats Comic World. Comic World is Korea’s largest comic and anime convention–it’s a fun and colorful cosplay wonderland, full of skilled artists offering beautiful fan merch and comics, and all sorts of contests and programming that wouldn’t have been lost on me if I knew more Korean.

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1907651_746372581677_5232332411128474886_nTo compare Comic World to anime cons in the states, let me first explain that the cosplay scene in Korea is rather small compared to the states. And while Comic World is the largest anime con in Korea, you can scale the entire con floor in maybe an hour, if even.

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Although, while comic world may be comparatively small in size, the fact that the event happens about every month is a fair trade-off (once a month in Seoul, about once every three months in Busan). This frequency makes it easier to form friendships and avoid the brutal end-of-con-depression that occurs when you attend a con that happens simply once a year.

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I didn’t cosplay this first time around, I just coordinated a goth lolita ensemble. They try to keep things more orderly than at a US con–they actually have cosplayers register, and have designated dressing and makeup rooms–so I wanted to feel out the situation first.

Cos2 cos8When I look at Comic World in comparison to other anime cons I’ve attended, the two things that really stuck out to me were the wide array of yaoi fan comics, and the large amount of incredibly well-executed crossdress and crossplay. Badass high school girls dressed as brooding, stylish boys were undoubtedly the star of the show at this
con.

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c0s11And might I just mention that language barriers aren’t really a thing here. As with any con, everyone wants to have fun and take pictures with everyone–just make sure to be polite about it. Though, it goes without saying that you’ll have a lot more fun at the con if you at least know a little bit of Korean.

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cocococI’ll be attending Comic World again next month, and I intend to a cover a new aspectnext time around–feature more of the artists and offer a glimpse of some of the jaw-dropping yaoi that seriously dominates the convention hall (Loki and Thor? Woah…). Not to mention, I should have my two cosplays ready to roll pretty soon. I’m not sure if I mentioned what the next one will be yet, but if not, here’s a hint…

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So what do you think about Comic World and the Hello Kitty Cafe? Would you make a trip to either of them if you came to Seoul? Leave any comments or feedback below ^_^

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3 Responses to Exploring Seoul’s Hello Kitty Cafe and Comic World

  1. mari says:

    Everything looks totally awesome and exciting. I would go there if I were 20 years younger.

  2. Hope says:

    I’ve been away from your blog for so long! Augh, what do I talk about first? \(^V^)X(^V^)/ YOU’RE IN KOREAAAAAA! YAAY! Welcome to my second favorite place (that I’ve unfortunately never visited…) on Earth!
    I’ve caught up on all your posts and firstly, I’m not sure why I’m so shocked to hear you’re a teacher. Maybe it’s because all of my teachers (except for one kick-ass teacher I had in 4th grade) have been very Southern Belle-esque and dressed in mainstream mod fashions, so my opinions on teachers and personal aesthetics are skewed. ^^;

    Secondly, I wonder if the Hello Kitty Cafe can hire foreigners? I’d gladly work there! >*< From what I know about owning small businesses in Korea, I think you have to have at least 5 paid Korean employees before you can hire any foreigners… (And a working visa if your a foreigner, of course.)

    I've been in denial about the smallness of cosplay and anime culture in Korea for a while now. *Sigh* Guess I need to suck it up and accept it, huh? OTL

    Yay for GothPunk! I've been looking around their online store and I like what I see. I'm not really into the creepy-goth/punk look myself (I'm a scaredy cat and would probably creep myself out ^^; ) but I love a lot of the other stuff I see. Thanks for sharing about them, Riss!

    And lastly, all of my favorite bloggers and stuff are in Korean now! AUGH! If I needed any more incentive to look into college in Korea, I have it now. Maybe I'll seek you out if I ever get there? (It would probably be in Spring, though. ^^; )

    Have fun in the Land of the Morning Calm! \^^/

    • rissvandal says:

      To tell you the truth, I’m a little shocked I’m a teacher as well, haha ^^;; It was an unexpected life change. And if you ever do come out here, definitely drop me a line! I may stay in Korea for a longer time than originally planned…I’m still deciding.

      And yes, I was a bit bummed at first to see there was such a small cosplay scene, but at the same time, it’s kind of cool because the fans there are are SO dedicated. I’ll do even more con coverage in the future.

      And does the Hello Kitty Cafe hire foreigners…hmm…maybe it’s time to start hitting those Korean languange books, hmm? ^_^




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