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…)