Christine Anusim is a student at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, and is an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Seoul, South Korea.
Hello and welcome to another installment of My Time in Korea with Christine. When I started this blog, I wondered what ‘need to try’ meant. Normally that means foods, but I thought all the other posts with this topic have something with food so I tried to be a bit different. The 3 things I think you all should try in Korea are: 1) multipurpose rooms/arcades, 2) Subway Tours, and 3) a few of my favorite foods —of course I had to add food here because it’s basically a requirement.
Without further ado, number one.
I honestly did not know how big the arcade culture was in Korea when I did some research to see if there were any arcades I could go to while studying abroad. I love going to them in the U.S. because it brings out my inner child and sometimes my competitiveness. Arcades (오락실) are scattered throughout Korea, especially in Seoul where I was. I recommend going to arcades large or small and playing some unconventional games. At about 1000 won (~0.88 USD) per play, the fun is endless. One thing I recommend is to not get stuck on the claw machines! On top of arcades are the sporty game rooms. I am not sure what the Korean name is for these as a whole, but the ones I went to were in Sinchon by the name of Strike-pang.
Here you can pay for a round in the batting cage, pitching, archery, shooting and more to earn prizes. I was so good that all of my shots were on the outside of the target circle! These are a little more low-key than the arcades, and I haven’t found much info on them as on arcades.
Secondly, I recommend trying the Subway Tours. They are somewhat hidden on the Official Korea Tourism site, but I think they are unique. I did not do one because I was kind of free-styling with the places I had planned to go to already.
I found out about these at the end of my trip and I totally would have done one if I had the time. A side note to this is that I think there is a lot of walking involved. Rather than getting on and off the subway, where a payment is required, I would make sure I was wearing comfortable walking shoes for the day I choose to journey on a tour. To reach this special section, you would need to find the “Attractions” link and scroll down until you see “Subway Tours”. Make sure you have some time before you get to this page because the Seoul subway system is very extensive and there is something to do at each station!
Finally, it’s food time. My third favorite was Cheunghyangjeong (층향정). Basically, it was a pajeon (pancake) but there was some meat on top of it. I got this at the Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market from one of the numerous food trucks there. It was delicious, but I also think hunger and excitement played a role in my flavor perception. I was happy to eat pajeon in the country of origin because that was one of the first Korean foods I ever tried. The meat was a yummy addition.
The number two spot was an egg-bread pastry (gyeran ppang 계란 빵). You can get it in Myeongdong about 250 meters from the subway exit number 6, so I think it might be famous in the area. My friend tried it first and raved about it, but I think I was full from eating other stuff that day. The next time I went out to Myeongdong, I was a bit hungry so I got one. I thought that was the best decision I made that night. It was savory (toppings) and sweet (bread part)—my favorite combination of foods. This tasty treat is about 2000 won.
Lastly, the number one spot goes to something that I think has many names, but I believe it was Keobttak (컵닭). I am sure there is a proper name, but once you see it you cannot miss it. The mixture is composed of fried chicken in a sweet chili sauce, tater tots, and rice cakes with a slight honey drizzle. It normally comes in a cup and is around the 3000 won price point.
Now that you’ve read this, I hope my ideas help spark some more exploration on your own part! Some things I did research on before coming to Korea and others were just spur of the moment “that looks fun, or “that looks good” kind of thing.
Comments Questions? Leave them below! I hope this helped and good luck on your travels in Korea!
(Also, if you happen to find the name of my #1 favorite cup street food let me know!)
Until Next time!
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