Of Stalkers & Hongdae

I actually tried to write this post last night seeing as this all happened yesterday, but I got about halfway through and didn’t like where I started so I gave up and went to bed. There’s just so much–I didn’t know what to do. But I’ve found that the best way to start writing in that situation is to start with the present until you get into the flow and then just let it come out.

I’m in my favorite coffee shop again and I finally found which one is the hot chocolate instead of all these different iced chocolate drinks I’ve been trying.

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Do you like some whipping cream?

As much as it’s sucked not having wifi and being busy every morning, I’m going to miss writing at a shop every night. There’s something about the people coming and going and the k-pop in the background that makes me–oh sweet, the girl just left my favorite spot in the corner

Aggressively runs to corner with arms full of stuff

Anyway, there’s something nice about writing here. I may do it even after I move into my apartment, seeing as I’ll have a whole new section of coffee shops to explore, even though sometimes, most of the time, I feel like a stalker.

Speaking of stalkers, yesterday I finally went to Apgujeong with friends to see the sasaeng fans. Sasaeng fans are people, usually teenage girls, who do crazy and inappropriate things to celebrities because they love them so much. This probably exists to some degree with every celebrity, but I think Korean girls bring it to a whole other level. For instance, there’s a whole industry where taxis will be hired for an entire day to follow a specific band’s van. Or some will poison people they don’t like drinks, or pop their tires, or pretend to be news reporters at a conference. It’s really quite wild.

There is a level beneath sasaeng fans, and I’m not sure what they called, but they basically sit outside the entertainment buildings for hours waiting for celebrities to go in and out. In those few seconds they run up and take pictures/videos and try to get a word in with their oppa and (almost) always fail.

On the one hand you look down on these girls–don’t they have better things to do? But on the other hand, I also find these videos fascinating and click on them whenever they come up tumblr, so I guess if there’s a demand then there will always be a supply. Also I have to give them the benefit of the doubt–maybe their home life sucks so much they’d rather stand outside in the freezing cold waiting for celebrities than be at home (although I would recommend a warm coffee shop personally).

So we went to Apgujeong to see the sites of these videos in real life, and perhaps spot some serious fans. I succeeded at both of these tasks.

First was JYP, where Dunkin’ Donuts bought a tiny space right across from the building and had glass installed in the walls.

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Possibly the smartest financial move Dunkin’ Donuts has ever made

The place was crawling with teenage girls with notebooks. WHAT ON EARTH WERE THEY WRITING. There was literally nothing happening except perhaps… “three foreigners stop by Dunkin’ Donuts for hot chocolate and munchkins. They seem very happy to be there…girlfriends perhaps?”

I tried to take pictures of them without being too obvious, which is funny because as evidenced from the video above, they themselves obviously don’t care about being inconspicuous.

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Creepy picture of creepy people

This is all fine and well until I realized that I, myself, was also sitting outside JYP hoping for someone to come out. That’s when we decided to move on. Don’t worry–it was 15 minutes max. (These girls will sit outside literally all day on a weekend to get these videos).

So then we wandered through this little neighborhood with one way streets and convenience stores to snap quick pictures of the other buildings. It was cool to see where all these videos had come from–not just the creeper videos/pictures but also press conferences and stuff–but I wouldn’t say I need to do it again.

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There were actually people standing  here but I meandered around them

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To increase my SEO, this is

How to Get to JYP, CUBE, and SM buildings.

First take the yellow line to Apgujeong Rodeo station. Take exit two and continue straight. You’ll pass the old SM building, currently covered with a large poster of Red Velvet. At the first BIG intersection (you’ll pass a lot of alleyways) turn left, staying on the same side of the street. As of this writing, this intersection also has a Burberry and “Sleep Talk” on the other corners. Continue on that street until you see a small Baskin Robbins. There will be an alleyway on your left. If you think, “that looks kind of creepy” and wouldn’t walk down it at night, you have reached the right place. Go down there and there will be a couple of small coffee shops and CUBE on your right. Continue until the next small intersection and you’ll see a giant picture of JYP himself. You really can’t miss it (typical right?). Have a snack at Dunkin’ Donuts enjoying the view and feeling super creepy before continuing down JYP’s road (you turned a left at the intersection) towards a small CU convenience store. Turn right and meander through the neighborhood until you reach the end where it intersects with a larger street. Turn right and Wow! There’s SM. Exciting I know.

Anyway, after feeling sufficiently creepy we hopped back on the subway and decided to do something a little more socially acceptable–Hongdae.

Hongdae is short for “Hongik Daehakgyo”–a prestigious arts college. The crowd is 99% college age Korean kids and the occasional foreigner who thinks it’s cool.

best picture I could find and free advertising for Hongdae guesthouse

It feels a little bit like Myeongdong in that the streets are thin, (almost) carless, crowded with people, and surrounded by food and shopping stalls. There is so much going on, it’s a little overwhelming for an introvert like me. I think you could spend a week (or four years if you’re a college student) in Hongdae and still not eat/try everything. It’s not like Myeongdong though in that everything is cheaper (college budget) and the shops are little vintage clothing and purse places, not chain makeup.

Hongdae has all sorts of themed cafes that we must visit sometime, but we were recommended a little hole in the wall bibimbap place where you ordered in one room and sat in the room next door and the ahjumma handed you your food through a literal hole in the wall.

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The walls were covered in tacked stickers that someone cool started sometime

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and tzotchke

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which we naturally added to

There was all sorts of shopping, and I may or may not have bought a mint colored purse which I’ve been wanting for ages and an EXO hat because I live with no regrets.

Other things spotted in Hongdae:

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The rapture starts here folks

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So many fried things

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I want Gu Jun Pyo to buy me some

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Why aren’t “American Style Long-ffles” actually a thing in America?

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Yes

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I’m sorry…but…

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Off from the main strip, Hongdae is also famous for its street art, seeing as it’s next to an arts school and all.

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This looks like a good idea

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the originals

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Write your name on painted post-it notes

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Approaching dusk, the street performers come out. Magicians, hip hop dancers, indie bands, and sketchy people in costumes.

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He vacated this spot right after this picture was taken so…weird for everyone…

It’s a magical place in a different sort of way. You feel like a hipster just by walking around, even if you are totally mainstream (like myself).

We left before sunset because it’s freaking cold. To give you an idea–my carmex in a tube froze that day. It physically could not be pushed out for hours.

But we are definitely going back to eat at the cafes, see more street performers, and visit YG.

As we like to say…next paycheck?

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