One of the best things about living in “the most wired country in the world” is that people understand how to use — and fully embrace — technology. And trust me, having worked in the tech industry for years this refusal to learn anything tech-related/digital — even things like one’s own phone, camera, microwave, or computer — is not limited to any particular demographic. In Korea people don’t just stand in front of the automated ticket machines staring off into oblivion, trying 50 credit cards (none of which work), taking hours to decide what movie/time to choose while ignoring the line of people behind them. Even during the busiest times the lines move quickly. If anything we are the ones holding up the line staring at the screen trying to figure out what to do while people (politely) wait behind us. Korea: 1, US: 0
You can pick up free mini movie posters (in Korean, obvs) for all the movies playing at that theater. (This one says “Mae-deu Maek-seu,” or Mad Max!) They also have some kind of “souvenir ticket” — assuming I read this correctly — where you can get a special ticket from each movie you watch and keep it in a special souvenir ticket book (otherwise tickets look like receipts) . As a hoarder of ephemera, I loved this idea! I bet they even have books where you keep the mini movie posters with the souvenir tickets! Very cute, very Korean. Korea: 2, US: 0
PS: This move was kinda dumb.
Anyone care for some mango or banana “shake ins” for their popcorn? Perhaps bul dak (spicy chicken) or hot curry flavoring? Also on this menu: dried squid! We saw someone with nachos but we avoided them because the last (and only) nachos we ate in Korea came with cold and sweet melted cheese. and we didn’t feel like risking it. The most popular movie snack seemed to be freshly made caramel corn which looked and smelled delicious. We were very tempted, but instead opted to share a Coke Zero as our movie treat. Korea: 2, US: 1 — Korea should lose like 10 points for thinking nacho sauce should be a) cold, b) sweet, but I’m feeling generous. Plus the other items, while unusual, were interesting and looked fresh.
Other than the snack menu, pretty much like a movie theater you could find in the states — except clean, organized, and with very friendly/helpful people running the concessions stand. Ahem. Korea: 3, US 1
Inside the 4D theater stadium seats set were up in rows of four — a center and two side rows. A huge part of the 4D movie experience is the moving seats. Each row of four moves together like a ride at the amusement park. Do I even need to mention that the theater was clean and the floors weren’t sticky? Also, it wasn’t 30 degrees below zero. inside the theater. Korea: 4; US: 1
Overall, the Korean movie-going experience was very enjoyable Popcorn wasn’t $8, the theater was clean, nobody was talking or surfing the internet on their cell phone during the movie, or lounging about with shoes off and their feet up on the back of my chair… Nacho preparation aside, Korea wins the movie wars…for now…
Sly really wanted to see the new Mad Max movie so we figured it would be the perfect opportunity to see a 4D movie and also our first movie in a Korean movie theater! We’ve done the obvious 3D, Imax, and something called Dbox, but never 4D! Date night: Korea edition was reborn!
4D movies have just started to make their way to the states, but they have been around in Korea for a long time. A 4D movie experience involves sight, smell, touch, sound. If you have ever seen or been to one of those “Journey to the Middle of the Earth” type of rides at the mall or at a space museum then you sort of get the idea. So kind of like a next level version of that. Our row of seats rattled and moved according to what was shown on the screen. There was also some kind of device on the back rest that thumped our backs and a rubber flap below the seat that slapped our ankles. Fog, strobe lights, puffs of water spray, puffs of air, and various scents were emitted at various points during the movie — all synced to what we were watching.
Before the movie began a little cartoon played warning the audience that pregnant women were not allowed. Sly and I both looked at each other — was it really that intense that pregnant ladies couldn’t watch? (And no I’m not pregnant.) As the seats started to rock side to side and lurch forward and backward i thought that I might puke. Unless I’m on a boat – or in this case, a 4D movie theater seat — i usually don’t get motion sickness but the constant jolting and swaying of the seats somehow triggered a seasick feeling. About 15 minutes in I thought I might have to get out of my seat and watch the rest of the movie while squatting in the aisle. Luckily I soon got used to the motion and sensory overload and was able to finish watch the movie without incident.
The movie itself was kind of stupid but as far as 4D movies go it was probably a good one to watch since there was a lot of action and a lot of motion (like driving through sand and water) that could be easily mimicked. It was fun to experience although for the price and near nausea I probably wouldn’t go all the time. I would love to see a scary movie in 4D though, especially with friends. It would be hilarious.
After the movie we walked around downtown trying to find a place to eat. We sort of became lost and kept walking by the same restaurant over and over again. By the time we passed it the third time, we decided to ahead and give it a try. I don’t recall the name of the restaurant — something Route 66 related? — but it had pizza, pasta, and salad, along with some more interesting menu items.
Sly had spicy seafood pasta, I had a salad
I guess the pretzel pizza was a huge hit.
We ended the night in search of one of my favorite Korean desserts: bingsu. I had a place in mind but after walking around in search of this place we gave up and went into the one dessert place that looked open. This bingsu was topped with what we thought was crushed peanuts but was actually crushed dry mung bean. The taste, when combined with the unsweetened shaved ice milk and topped with a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk reminded me of cereal and milk — one of my favorite flavor profiles. We gobbled up that bingsu in no time at all.
HOW TO BUY TICKETS FOR A MOVIE THEATER IN KOREA
(Assuming you aren’t Korean / have not mastered reading and writing in Korean)
STEP 1: Visit a site such as CineInKorea (this is what we used but there are many other options here). Pick your city and determine what movie you want to see and how you would like to watch your movie (subtitles, 3D, 4D, etc). Most American movies are in English with Korean subtitles. Note: there is a very small convenience fee for using this site — from 500-1.000 KRW (or about $.50-1. Well worth it if you ask me)
STEP 2: Purchase your tickets (you can pay by paypal or debit card, no Korean cards or Korean ID numbers needed!) and wait for the confirmation to be emailed or messaged to you via text. Note: This can take some time — like a day — so don’t freak out if you don’t get your confirmation RIGHT AWAY.
STEP 3: Go to the movie theater with your confirmation number and punch it into the touch screen ticket box. Easy!
Alternately: You can go to the ticket box and get your tickets using the touch screen ticket booth. I can’t recall if there is an English option but it’s kind of easy to figure your way around — pick the movie, pick a time, enter credit card — same as everywhere. Sometimes we have difficulty using our non=Korean credit cards in Korea so there’s potential for that. Also — if you go on a weekend or if the movie is popular — tickets for the times/shows you want most likely will be sold out unless you purchase in advance.