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.
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.
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.
As 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.
Complaints 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.
To 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.
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.
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.
When 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
And 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.
I’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…
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 ^_^