South Korea: What should Soccer Spouses Do?
World Cup fever is here again, and hubby is trying his best to convince you to tag along for a holiday in South Korea. Don't fret - there's still plenty to do even if your spouse is busy traveling all over South Korea and Japan to catch the football matches. For those adamant on missing the World Cup matches, there are many cultural festivals and events to keep you occupied for the entire duration of the World Cup!
Shop Till You Drop...
Ladies would be happy to note that the Korea Grand Sale would be held during the entire World Cup 2002. Shops situated around the ten host cities in Korea will be offering discounts up to 60% during the event. And this sale is not merely confined to clothes shopping - restaurants, duty-free shops, concert halls and even health care providers are among the participating outlets!
If you intend to remain in cosmopolitan Seoul instead of traveling all over Korea (can be a pretty tiring experience!), here are some shopping areas you shouldn't miss...
Dongdaemum Fashion Market
Some of the highest quality Korean products - fabrics, leather goods, traditional Hanbook costume and even bedding and other houseware are available here. It will be open all night from 6pm till early the next morning. This fashion market, situated next to the Dongdaemum Stadium is easily accessible on Subway Lines 2, 4 or 5.
Namdaemum Traditional Market
This is Korea's main wholesale center, with virtually everything sold in the open-air market. From clothing and shoes to well-made Korean wigs, furniture, electrical appliances and even construction items! Up-market departmental stores like Myeong-dong and Sogong Underground Arcades are situated nearby. You can also take the opportunity to visit the Deoksugung Palace, which is a five-minute walk away. The market is open from 11am till 5pm everyday except Sunday. To get here, take exit 5 from the Hoehyon Subway Station on Subway Line 4.
This is the Little Milan of Seoul, with the latest designer togs sold here. Even if you don't want to buy these latest fashion items, Myeong-dong makes a good window-shopping place. Take exit 5 from the Euljiro 1-ga Station on Subway Line 2, Myeong-dong Station on Line 4 or a short walk from exit 5 of the Hoehyon Station.
Popular area among tourists and expatriates, this place consists of more than 2000 shops as well as entertainment outlets, jazz bars and restaurants (Italian, Swiss, German, Mexican and Indian among the many choices). Here's the best place to shop for branded goods and good quality souvenirs. Nearby attractions include the War Memorial (commemorating soldiers who fought in the Korean War). Shops are open from 9am till 9pm daily. Transportation: Itaewon Station on Subway Line 6.
Insa-dong Antique Street
Frequented by local and international antique lovers all year round, it is fondly known as Mary's Alley among the antique-loving community. Here, you can obtain (or simply see) traditional ink paintings, calligraphic works, antique furniture and ceramics. The shops along here are open daily from 10am till 10pm. Hop off at Jonggak Subway Station on Line 1, Anguk Station on Line 3 or Jongno 2-ga Station on Line 5 to get to Insa-dong.
Ewha Woman's University
Most women love shopping, and Korean women are of no exception. Over the years, many shops and stalls have opened near the Ewha University to cater for the students. Here, there are various clothes, accessories, coffee lounges and even hairdressers, jazz cafes and theaters! The famed Ahyeon-dong Wedding Dress Street (with more than 120 wedding boutiques) is just a stone's throw away! To get here, take the Subway to Ewha University Staion or Shinchon Station on Subway Line 2.
Munjeong-dong Fashion Street
The Munjeong-dong Fashion Street houses many warehouse and shops selling export overruns or old stocks of famous international brands. These are not factory-rejects nor imitation goods! You can sometimes obtain up to 80% discount on branded clothes, shoes and accessories. Among international brands sold here are DKNY, Versace, BOSS, FILA, Nike, Adidas and Reebok. The shops are open daily from 10am till 9pm. To get here, take exit 1 of the Munjeong Station on Subway Line 8.
Visit the Lotte World - get lost on Magic Island, try the rides in Lotte World Adventure Park or experience the Korean culture at the Folk Village.
Leisurely Cruise - along Han River in Seoul.
Take a short trip to see the Azalea blossoms on Jirisan Mountains and pamper yourself in a spa there.
Join a tour to all the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites in Korea: Changdeokgung Palace, Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon, Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple, the Tropitaka Koreana woodblocks (of ancient Confucious teachings), the Jongmyo Royal Ancestral Shrine, Gyeongju Historical Areas and the Gochang, Hwasun and Ganghwa Dolmen archaeological sites.
Fly to Goseong in Gyeongsangnam-do to see more than 3000 dinosaur footprints.
Get a health check at all herbal medical stores in Gyeong-dong (for free!) on the Gyeongdong Yangnyeongsi (Herbal Medicine Day) celebrations on June 1.
Watch the Nanta (Cooking) performance, which integrates Korean percussion tempos with modern music at the Nanta Theater. This non-verbal performance is set in a kitchen!
Handy Tips for Travelers
As part of the World Cup 2002 celebrations, the Korean Tourism Department has a Goodwill Guide program in place. This is a type of free tour guide service for those who wish to do something different in Korea.
Under the Free Interpretation by Phone service, travelers need not worry that the cab drivers do not understand English. Simply flag down a cab with a sign on the back door stating "Free Interpretation by Phone" for services in English, Chinese and Japanese. The driver will contact an interpreter through the taxi phone.
The Korean Tourist Information Center is located within a five minutes walking distance from subway stations on Line 1 and Line 2. The center offers free tourism-related materials and services ranging from an information desk, travel agency, cyber lounge (Internet access), library, theater and a craft shop.
For detailed travel information around Korea in English, simply dial 1330 from any phone in Korea. A bilingual operator will answer you queries.
Emergency calls are 119 for fire and ambulance and 112 for the police.
Tourists can make complaints about unsatisfactory services or frauds by calling 02-7907561.
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