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choi siwon


Things to Do on a Fall Trip to Korea: COEX, Sinsadong, Dongdaemun Design Plaza and Market

Day 2 had us crossing the river (via the train system of course) and heading to the Gangnam side of things before heading back for some alien-level architecture and Divisoria-level haggling.

  1. COEX, Hyundai Department Store, SMTOWN Artium. COEX mall had been under construction for the longest time and Tin was hell bent on seeing it, so we went there to literally window shop. The travel budget didn’t really cover too many LVs, see? Hehe. The in-house Hyundai Department Store had a few events (sales) though, and after a few minutes of looking at stuff we headed to the adjacent SMTOWN Artium.
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    Spotted a fan-sponsored birthday greeting for EXO’s Chanyeol in one of the train stations. Photo by Ace Tria.

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    f(x) goodies at the SM Artium. Photo by Ace Tria.


    Human peg, Krystal of f(x) endorsing Keds at the SM Artium. Photo by Ace Tria.

    Essentially it’s several floors worth of fangirling, boasting of shops of idol merch, a cafe, studios and even a place where you can get your pictures taken “with your idol of choice.” I’m happy we found this place when we were no longer at the height of our fandom, because those things do not go cheap. But it was a fun field trip!

  2. Sinsadong Garosugil. Next thing on the itinerary was to look for the Sinsadong Garosugil (tree-lined street), which is literally a street lined with gingko trees and trendy shops and oh so many cafes. One thing we noted though was that there seemed to be a LOT of cosmetic surgery places there too, and there were a LOT of patients walking around with their plasters wrapped around their jaws and their noses and taped on their eyelids. Quite an interesting sight. Anyway, we were running on emergency fuel already, so we looked for a hole in the wall resto first before resuming our walk. There we found the flagship LINE Store! 
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    You don’t need to buy anything. Just come here for this. Ace and Sally at the Line store, Sinsadong.


    Maybe that’s Jessica? Along Sinsadong, Garosugil. Photo by Ace Tria.


    Me chilling with pandas. Sinsadong, Garosugil. Photo by Ace Tria.

    Songs of Our Breakup hanging with Sally at the Line Store. Sinsadong Garosugil. Photo by Ace Tria.

    Songs of Our Breakup hanging with Sally at the Line Store. Sinsadong Garosugil. Photo by Ace Tria.

    Sally and Brown and friends were there, as in giant fluffy version of them that you can hug and get pictures taken with! So much cuteness! After that we stopped at a Coffee Smith shop, which is this awesome outdoor, two-storey cafe setup for a dose of sweet potato latte and pumpkin latte. The taste of fall, yum!

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  3. Dongdaemun Design Plaza. DDP was closed last year when we found it, but we caught it earlier this year. The big thing housed exhibits and shops inside, and we were able to look around a little bit before going back out to gape at the buildings again. Because really, that sight is what you come here and endure the nippy air for.dongdaemun-design-plaza-korea-travel-ace-tria
  4. Dongdaemun Market. We went out and were met with a cluster of street food stalls (hurray!) so we got our eomuk fix again before heading inside Hello apM, which is one of the many 168-style malls in the area. My sister was on the hunt for a winter coat and we found an eonnie willing to haggle it out with a bunch of English-only foreigners. She got the coat down from KRW88k to 60k, and we bought one each (purchases we were happy about until we went to Ehwa, but that’s for another post). Tin was also able to find Taiyou bus merch for her nephew, though looking for that was a greater challenge for us. Note to self: find out the Korean word for ‘toy.’

Photos by Ace Tria. Songs of Our Breakup is on Amazon and Buqo. Print version available here.

Music Dance and Lyrics

Super Show 5 Manila: The boys are back

Super Show 5 Manila

The boys make their delayed Philippine comeback with Super Show 5 Manila, staged for the first time at the Mall of Asia area on October 24 2013.

Initial feels: Tired from an unfamiliar wave of stress from work. Worried that I am getting too old for this. But then again I felt the same way in the past 2 Super Shows. And again I was perplexed by the average age of the crowd. I know Super Junior‘s fan base is still mainly carried by the teens and pre-teens, which begs the question: how the heck are they able to afford the price of admission? (Think 8,000++ for Lower A and B seats.) My mother will surely never be generous enough to concede and feed a fan girl’s appetite.

Excited. The pure energy from the sea of sapphire blue lights was electrifying and contagious. Fans went wild for every shade that the lights were dimmed until the moment the Mall of Asia Arena went completely dark, save for the screen that came to new life. At 7:15, Super Show was running late, an unexpected and unprecedented glitch in a usually prompt-to-the-last-minute Korean event. But if the screams and cheers were any indication, no one was complaining. Continue Reading

Drama Review

Review: Now I Know Why It’s Called ‘Skip Beat’

Donghae, Siwon and a Happy Yellow Chicken

Donghae, Siwon and a Happy Yellow Chicken

It’s a Taiwanese drama, and after not watching one for a long time, I am reminded that they like toilet humor, physical comedy, and in-head monologues that can extend as long as an entire scene. It’s relatively faithful to the manga plot, as most fans agree, and as said manga is still unfinished, you should know what to expect from the ending. But seldom do dramas end all happily-ever-after now anyway, which I guess is a good trick to keep the audience hanging on to the story, leaving a sliver of an opening for a sequel. Or they are maybe just being considerate of the ELFs who have been both dying and squealing inside.

Overall, this take on Skip Beat was ridiculously funny, at times heart-tugging, and admittedly, overall an enjoyable watch. Props to Ivy Chen who carried the weight on her thin shoulders, and Siwon for actually being able to follow her lead. Donghae was sadly underused, so I hope they paid him well for his efforts too.

P.S. to Siwon: After more than 3 years of not falling for your charms, I actually went in and done it. Tsk tsk. So much for being a non-conformist.

Drama Review

Review: Oh! My Lady

It updated my iTunes, and more, so I guess this is an Oh! My Lady review.

I only watched the Korean drama because the trailer on ANIMAX showed Siwon with his trademark snarky grin, standing with his shirt open, chocolate abs in full view. Such a compelling persuasion, I tell you, even for someone whose Super Junior bias is not Simba (I’m so sorry Donghae!).

So I was prepared to finish it purely on fan-girl energy, but other hooks got to me. It is not a stellar, first-of-its-kind love story. The cougar romance has been played out often enough, by Demi andAshton and in Asian shores too, do not doubt it. But bias aside (I hope), Oh! My Lady offered a distinct charm. It was a very warm story.

It tells the humbling of the actor Sung Minwoo, who was looking down on us all–despite his bad acting–from his pedestal of pretty boy looks (and yes, yes, the chocolate abs), until the surprise baggage of an unknown child was dropped on his door. The adorable, face-full-of-cheeks, five-year-old YeEun. Enter ChaeRim as Yoon GaeHwa, the divorcee, desperate enough for means to feed her own daughter to resort to in-house housekeeping/nannying and innocent blackmailing. The moment she learns this secret before he does is the first critical moment of trouble.

And so the story goes. The chemistry between 24-year old idol Siwon and 32-year old popular actress ChaeRim was not instantaneous. I cringed at their first kiss, it felt as awkward as watching just that — a househelp and his actor master pucker up. Until the episodes go by and I believed it. ChaeRim carried Siwon well, little YooBin as YeEun was a ball of precious cuteness, and other than Park HanByul‘s flat delivery (her acting is as superficial as her character), I had nothing to complain about in this drama. Siwon has a long way to go before being the acting-dol he wants to be (and by God, HanByul even more), but he was endearing to watch. Though of course, the role of a bratty rich worshiped actor may not have been a long shot for him to internalize.

My take-aways (and these are such because I am still a fan-girl after all), 1. Siwon can act, 2. Siwon can sing (I was seriously doubting that, you see. I mean, isn’t he the Super Junior equivalent of Choi Minho? Not so, apparently)

And, 3. my updated iTunes. Drama OSTs can be as reliable as death and taxes, I’ve noticed.

And with that picture of epic familial cuteness, I look forward to drama Skip Beat with a shaking heart.