Browsing Category: preschool adventures in seoul

Preschool Adventures in Seoul: Marvel Avengers STATION Exhibition at the Korean War Memorial and Museum

*This exhibition is OPEN RUN with no ending date announced at the moment.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a new Preschool Adventure in Seoul, mainly because my big boys entered kindergarten last fall, and although I thought it would be easier, it’s actually much more difficult to explore the city with my now-3-year-old because I have to be back at the boys’ school to pick them up at 1:50pm. But it’s summer vacation now, and we can’t just sit at home and do nothing! 😉

The Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. Exhibition (website in Korean only) has been at the Korean War Memorial and Museum since May, and I was reluctant to take my kids simply because of the cost. Tickets to the exhibition are 20,000W for kids (age 3 and up) and 25,000W for adults, so for my kids and myself, it would cost 85,000W. However, Ticketmonster currently has discounted tickets for 13,000W for children and 16,250W for adults (good only until 9 August 2015), which kind of took the sting out of the ticket price… Plus, we’re in the middle of monsoon season. Rain, rain, rain in the forecast for days on end. And it’s about 8000 degrees in our house. We needed to do something!

Avengers

The exhibition is not in the main building, but to the east of the main building, next to the Children’s Museum, which is located behind the outdoor exhibition space (where all the planes are). Tickets can be purchased at the ticket booth on site (although the discount is only offered online). As you enter the exhibition, you’re given a Samsung smart watch, and at the first station, you scan the QR code on your watch and enter your name and birthdate. At the second station, your watch is scanned again, and you get your photo taken for a STATION ID badge, which you can purchase for 5,300W at the end of the exhibition. You will also have a photo taken of your entire party before entering the exhibition space for yet another souvenir photo (5,300W). Once that’s done, one of the exhibit guides explains how the smart watches work inside the exhibition space. Your watch alerts you to missions that can be completed in the exhibition space. The kids were getting pretty darn excited at this point, until the guide informed us that the “missions” and the “quizzes” are only available in Korean. Bummer!

From there, you enter a high-tech “briefing room” where a STATION employee explains what you’ll be doing in the space. In Korean. I really can’t complain though that everything is in Korean considering that we ARE in Korea… 😉 My boys loved this small white space with laser beams crisscrossing across the floor. My 3 year old daughter, on the other hand, was immediately uncomfortable as the doors shut on the space. Once the briefing video ends, another set of doors slide open and you’re in the exhibition space.

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The exhibit itself explains the history of the all the major characters. It’s all very high-tech and glamorous, but there’s a great deal of reading, which isn’t so great for my beginner readers. On the bright side, most of the text is in both Korean and English!

The interactive stations aren’t so linguistically sophisticated; however, the exhibition guides will take you through the screens and explain what’s going on. There are a number of fun activities for young children that allow kids to compare their strength to Captain America’s. My boys were bummed that they’re no where near as strong–hahaha!

 

The interactive portion of the exhibit includes a virtual reality station as well as a full body, interactive video game station.

IMG_3459 IronManMy boys didn’t really have much to say about the virtual reality glasses, but they LOVED the full-body Hulksmasher game. The coolest part for them was watching their own bodies on the screen in front of them transform into Iron Man because what little boy doesn’t want that??

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There are also some cool life-sized models, but the vast majority of the exhibition is digital, which makes sense considering the exhibit is sponsored by Samsung Galaxy.

My 3 year old daughter had a tougher time with the exhibition overall. Because most of the exhibit consists of digital monitors, the space itself is fairly dark. Also, a number of the interactive portions are quite loud. She started off a bit uncomfortable when the doors shut in the briefing room, but when we got to the Bruce Banner/Hulk portion of the exhibit, a large digital image of Hulk suddenly moved and roared at us, causing all 3 of my kids to run screaming from the room and my 3 year old to begin crying and shaking uncontrollably. From that point on, she wanted to be held or otherwise wanted to bury herself under my shirt.

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It took a bit of coaxing for my boys to go back into the Hulk room, and even after getting acquainted with the space, they refused to walk in front of the particular screen that had scared the crap out of them.

As you exit the exhibition space, you’re given the option of purchasing the photos that were taken at the beginning of the exhibit. Prices are clearly listed, and you can see the items before purchasing/printing. To the left as you exit is the gift shop. My kids were especially excited for the gift shop because they brought their own money from their piggy banks to buy something–something small. BIG MISTAKE. The shop is incredibly overpriced, even for a museum gift shop. The are absolutely no items under 7,000W. Most things in the shop are 25,000W and up. So if you’re taking your kids, I suggest skipping the gift shop altogether because your kids will want to buy ALL THE THINGS and you will be forced to say NO to all the things because you just spent an arm and a leg getting your kids into the exhibit!

Overall, I felt that my kids were simply too young for the exhibit. My boys are 6, heading into 1st grade. They don’t read Korean, and they’re beginning readers in English. They weren’t interested in all the text, and the handful of interactive stations just didn’t justify the cost for me. We were in and out of the entire exhibition space in less than an hour. And it was absolutely a waste of money for my 3 year old!

I would recommend the exhibit for kids aged 9 and up. Kids who can read independently. And I would absolutely recommend it for adult fans of the Avengers! However, if you’re an adult fan of the Avengers and you grew up reading the comic books… You’ll likely be pretty disappointed because the entire exhibition is about the recent MOVIES (unlike the Transformers exhibit last year at DDP, which covered the entire history of the Transformers).

IMG_3455The boys had a good time, but even they admitted to me that they didn’t like it as much as they thought they would. They thought it was too short, and there really wasn’t enough for them to do, but that goes back to the age-appropriate thing. I’m sure they would have liked it more if they were just a few years older!

 

 

Preschool Adventures in Seoul: Outdoor Fun in Gangchon

If you’re a regular here on my blog, then you know that my sweet baby boys–who aren’t babies anymore–are about to start kindergarten. And to bid farewell to our carefree days at home and welcome in a new era of having school-aged children, we decided to take a fun-filled family trip out of Seoul! Having experienced the insanity of travel on weekends, my husband decided to take a couple days off from work, and we planned our trip for Sunday through Tuesday. That way, we could avoid the mass exodus out of Seoul on Saturday mornings and the hectic trip back to Seoul on Sundays. The last time we traveled to the Chuncheon area, what should have been a 90 minute drive took us nearly 3 hours. Lesson learned… We left Seoul on Sunday morning and made it to our destination in 90 minutes flat. The drive home was even better. Door to door in 80 minutes! How’s that for efficiency?? I found a wonderful little pension–Dabol Pension–just outside of a town that we’d driven through the last time we were in the area. We’d seen a little amusement park, another bike rail park, and lots of ATVs and bike paths, and we had promised the kids we’d take them back. The drive from the pension to the little town of Gangchon took less than 10 minutes, and the place was perfect. I specifically searched for a place with a pool, and this place delivered! The pool was perfect for my little 5 year old swimmers. The water was no deeper than 2 feet, and the slide… Well, it was endless hours of entertainment! The only downside (for parents) is that the pool water is pumped directly from the little mountain stream that runs behind the pension. Meaning it’s COLD. ICE COLD. The kids didn’t seem to care. At all. Dabol Pension Pool Dabol Pension offers several different accommodation styles from Western style rooms for couples and/or families (with lofted bedrooms, kitchens and private patios) to Korean style rooms for larger groups (up to 10 people) and caravan/campers. Our family loves to go camping, and our kids especially love “car-houses,” so we opted for the camper. It was perfect for our family of 5. Dabol Pension Camper Inside, there’s a full sized bed and a set of twin sized bunk beds, a small kitchenette with electric stove, fridge, and dining table, and a bathroom. It also has air conditioning–woohoo! The built-on patio also had a charcoal grill and a table with weather screen in case of rain. It didn’t rain while we were there, but the screen did a decent job of keeping the bugs at bay. Prices vary by time of year and day of week, but for our quiet non-weekend trip, the rates were very reasonable. 130,000W per night for 2 people, plus an additional 10,000W for each of our older children. Our youngest–who is 2.5 years old–didn’t count. 😉 The various rates are published on their website, but here are the general prices: Caravans (2 people included in rate/4 person maximum) 130,000W for weekdays/150,000W for weekends Western-style rooms (4 people included in rate/8 person maximum) 150,000W for weekdays/180,000 for weekends Korean-style rooms (10 people included in rate/10-12 person maximum) 250,000W for weekdays/300,000W for weekends) Prices for peak season are higher (peak season dates vary each year). Aside from our fun at the pension, our 3 day trip to Gangchon was filled with excitement for our little ones. We hit the bike rails first: Bike Rail ParkIf you’ve never heard of the bike rails in Gapyeong-gun, they’re an ingenious way to use old, out-of-use railroad tracks. There are 2 seaters (25,000W) and 4 seaters (35,000W), and you just pedal down the railroad tracks and enjoy the view! The last one we rode, which started at Gyeonggang Station, began and ended at the station. Halfway down the tracks, you were spun around and sent back to the station. The one we rode this time (starting at Gangchon Station) was 8.2km long and ended at Kimyookyung Station, which took about an hour and 15 minutes. From there, a shuttle bus took us back to Gangchon Station. The entire trip took about 2 hours. If you’re looking for a leisurely stroll, I would suggest taking the one at Gyeonggang Station. It was much easier! This one was definitely a work-out, especially since my 5 year olds are just a little too short to help with the pedaling! Oh, and another helpful tidbit–children up to 36 months old can be held on your lap. However, if you have a family of 4 and are able to seat your little one in a seat, do that because it’s MUCH harder to pedal with a kid sitting on your lap. Just ask my husband. After our bike rail adventure, which included going through a tunnel–complete with fluorescent lights and Gangnam Style blasting on speakers (only in Korea!!!), we ate lunch and ventured over to one of several “adventure parks” in town for some kart racing and ATV rides. Both were a HUGE hit, and really… Both were experiences that our 5 year olds AND our 2 year old would never have in the US, quite simply because of something called Safety Standards! For the kart racing, they just strapped our 2 year old in with one of the 5 year olds, told my husband that the second steering wheel that my son had control of also steers the vehicle so don’t drive too fast and sent them on their way! I was in another kart with the other 5 year old, and I had to MANHANDLE my steering wheel to keep us on the track. Kart Racing 20,000W pays for 15 minutes on the track, which was more than enough to satisfy me, but maybe not the kids… 😉 After the kart racing, we went for the ATVs. 20,000W got us the ATVs for a full hour, and like the kart racing, they weren’t too concerned about safety–haha! We strapped our 2 year old into the Ergo on my husband’s back and off we went! IMG_8935 IMG_8938 There are numerous trails around town, and all they asked is that we not go into town. All of us had an absolute blast, and my boys deemed the day THE BEST DAY EVER. What more can you ask for? Back at the pension, there was more pool-time, some hanging out on hammocks and grilling. IMG_8908 Oh, and if you thought you had to start heating up your charcoal an hour before you planned to grill your meat, then you’ve never experienced Korean grilling. This was our first day’s lighting of the charcoal. IMG_8901Day 2 got a lot more efficient. IMG_8957 Why, yes! That’s a blow torch! Our coals were red hot and ready to go in 15 minutes flat. Korean efficiency at its best. If you’re looking for a place to go with (or without) kids, I would definitely recommend this area. It’s not a far drive, there’s so much to do, and the beauty of the Korean country/mountainside never gets old.

Preschool Adventures in Seoul: Transformers 30th Anniversary Exhibition at DDP

As my boys get older, I love that they play with the toys that we loved as children. Although I played with Cabbage Patch Kids and Barbies, I had an older brother who indoctrinated me in the ways of Transformers, Star Wars, G.I. Joe and Super Mario Brothers. We watched the cartoons and movies, owned the action figures, and occasionally, his G.I. Joes and my Barbies would get married before the Decepticons came and threatened to destroy life as we knew it. Thankfully, Obi Wan Kenobi and Optimus Prime were up for the challenge and all was right with the world. So when I heard that there was an exhibition or original artwork celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the birth of Transformers at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (in Korean only), I had to take my kids!

We headed out there early on a weekday morning–the best time to go to any public place here in Korea–and took the subway to the Dongdaemun Culture and History Park Station. Riding the subway apparently never gets old for 2 to 5 year olds, so woohoo! Mom is the greatest! 😉

Transformers Exhibition sign

Once we paid for our tickets and entered the exhibition, the children (my 5 year old boys in particular) were in Transformers Heaven. The exhibition itself is fairly small; however, it covers all 30 years of design and artwork–from concepts and models for toys, sketches for cartoons and the development of the CGI graphics for the recent movies. So perfect for the geekiest of Transformers Geeks!

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We were able to walk through the exhibition in about 30 minutes; however, there’s PLENTY of other things for kids (and adults) to do. As you enter the exhibition hall, you can choose a coloring page with either Optimus Prime or Bumblebee on it, and there are easels, floor cushions, and loads of crayons, pastels, markers and colored pencils available in the gallery. Kids can make themselves comfortable right in front of their favorite Autobot and get coloring! And once you’re finished, take your coloring page to the gift shop, show them your awesome creation and choose a free Transformers postcard!

Hello Kitty Prime, anyone?
Hello Kitty Prime, anyone?

There are also a couple of activities located by the gift shop/cafe. My kids absolutely loved the Contruct-Bots building station, complete with instruction booklets so you can build your own Transformer. (Parents be warned: There is no building set for Bumblebee, and you cannot take the toy with you–the building sets are there to play with, not to keep.) I liked that it was FREE. 😉

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I literally had to drag my kids away from here. There’s also a paper model building station, which costs 2,000W, and a little Transformers kart that kids can sit in and have their picture taken. It doesn’t go anywhere, but my 2 year old didn’t mind. She just sat it in for about 15 minutes, moving the mirrors around and pretending to drive.

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Directly across from this little display, there’s a staffed photo station. It costs 2,000W, but if you’ve spent more than 30,000W in the exhibition (including tickets, beverages and the gift store), you can show your receipts and get photos for free.

All in all, my kids and I had a great day. The exhibition is open until October 10, 2014, so if you or your kids love Transformers, then make plans to go!

Tickets:

Tickets are available for pre-purchase on www.ticket.interpark.com, but it’s only available on the Korean website, not on the English site. However, we didn’t have any problems purchasing tickets at the door.

Adults: 15,000W
Youth: 12,000W (junior high and high school)
Children: 10,000W (ages 3-12)
Children under 36 months FREE

They also offer family discounts:

2 adults and one child: 37,000W
2 adults and 2 children: 43,000W

Getting There:

The subway is probably the easiest way to get there. Get off at Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station, Exit 1. From the doors that lead out to the Plaza from Exit 1, just walk straight ahead across the plaza to the building directly in front of the doors. This will take you to Building A. Tickets can be purchased just inside the doors. The Transformers exhibition is just a little farther down the hall.

DIY Rainbow War Party for Kids!

The last few weeks have been incredibly busy (thus my absence from the blogiverse lately). We have a 17 year old relative visiting from the States–and OMG is having a teenager in the house a lot of work! During his 14 day stay, we’ve managed to: visit the National Museum of Korea, Gyeongbokgung Palace, the Korean War Memorial and Musem, have our feet chewed on by little fish in Myeongdong, see the Jump! show at Kyunghyang Art Hill, play mini-golf, and eat all kinds of food our small-town, middle American teenager had never even heard of before. On top of that, I’ve been knee-deep in planning for a kids’ color war party, and despite feeling overwhelmed by all the things… The teenager is flying out tomorrow full of new experiences and wonderful memories (hopefully!), and the color war party was a huge success!

The party was inspired by a very talented photographer and friend, Zayda Barros. She wanted to photograph a color war, but since she doesn’t have kids (yet!), she asked me to help throw a party of EPIC proportions. 😉 And because I love planning parties, I ran with it and this is what happened:

color war

 

Since I knew that a professional was snapping away, I didn’t take very many photos… And I’m much too impatient to wait until her photos are ready to post to write this post, so apologies for my crap photos and I’ll have some beautiful ones to share soon!

UPDATE: Thank you to the very talented Zayda Barros for these beautiful photos!

Here what planning our Rainbow War Party entailed and some tips for planning your very own color war party!

Location:

Obviously, this is an outdoor activity! We planned our party for a public picnic area that was somewhat secluded, giving kids enough room to run around and throw colors without attracting too much attention. Also, access to water is important! Our picnic area came with a water faucet so kids could wash off before heading home/smearing colors all over the inside of mom’s car.

Guest List:

As with all parties, the fun begins with the guest list! We had a tough time keeping our guest list under 30 children, but we had to keep our group somewhat manageable. The color war is most appropriate for kids aged 4 and up. Our list consisted of 25 kids ranging in age from 2-9. As with all invitations for activity-based parties, be sure to thoroughly explain to parents what the party entails and be prepared to answer a host of questions! We explained: how kids should be dressed (plain white t-shirts that could be ruined during the party), what they should bring for their own child(ren) (towel and change of clothes), age-appropriateness, how long the color war would last, and how parents could help with supplies.

Activities:

Because of the toddlers and also because the color war only lasts about 20-30 minutes (depending on how much color powder you’ve prepared), we prepared other activities to keep the kids busy. Finger painting and play dough are great, colorful activities to keep kids happy and occupied as they eagerly await the beginning of the color war! I purchased finger paints, but made my own play dough (scroll down for the very simple DIY recipe!).

Finger Painting

Because I didn’t have immediate access to rolls of art paper, I just taped large sheets of white paper down to the picnic tables. Rolls of paper would definitely have worked better, but you do what you can…

Food:

Our menu consisted of pasta salad, rainbow bread sandwiches, fruit and veggie platters, M&Ms, Skittles, rainbow cupcakes and beverages–simple and colorful!

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The bread was easy but time consuming to make. There are many different ways to make rainbow bread–just do a quick Pinterest search and there are plenty of different recipes. However, I’m not much of a baker and with a million other things going on at the jkwdesigns house, I needed to make things easier for myself, not harder! So I went with pre made dough. Pilsbury French Loaf dough to be exact. 😉 I was inspired by the recipe for the Rainbow Sandwich Loaf, but I took quite a few liberties with the recipe in order to make it less labor intensive. My changes resulted in a bread that wasn’t quite as colorful as the recipe suggests, but it worked out, I saved some time, and made less of a mess. Win, win, win!

Rainbow fruit and veggie platters Rainbow treats

Decorations:

I kept decorations relatively simple since the focus was on turning our adorable little kids into colorful works of art! I made a “Taste the Rainbow” sign for the food table and individual food signs. I would have preferred white tablecloth for the tables, but supplies at my local shop were limited so I had to go with light purple. I also would have liked to hang white tablecloth as a backdrop for the color fight area, but I wasn’t able to do that either. Oh, the injustice of shopping for party supplies in a country that doesn’t really sell party supplies… 😉

Taste the Rainbow Sign

 

Also, I made water bottle labels for our Rainbow Warriors as well as juice box labels, but a friend brought them in a cooler with ice so my paper labels clearly weren’t going to work. My friend is clearly more thoughtful of the children that I am because I would have served the kids room temperature juice boxes for the purpose of aesthetics! 😉

Rainbow Warrior Water Bottles

 

The files for FREE printables can be accessed here:

Taste the Rainbow
Food Signs
Water Bottle Labels

And just for fun, I added some colored streamers around the picnic area, which ended up being more fun for the kids as we began clean-up.

Streamers

Rainbow War:

Because this party was for a photo session rather than for someone’s birthday, we asked that parents contribute color powder for the fight. They had the option of either purchasing a pack of holi powder from Amazon or making their own. I found numerous recipes for DIY color powder for color wars, but none of them worked quite as well as I had hoped. The flour-based mixtures took ages to dry (Korean summers are just too humid), and very few of us owned coffee grinders. In the end, I did quite a bit of experimenting and came up with an EASY, NO-MESS solution! (Scroll down for Color Powder Recipe!)

For the rainbow war, we pre-filled cups with a small amount of color powder. As the color war began, kids were each given one cup, then instructed to return to the table to have their cups refilled when they ran out of color. This definitely helped the battle last longer!

Color Powder

The only instructions that we gave the kids were:

1) No throwing colors directly at someone’s face.

2) If someone asks you to stop, you must stop.

All the kids were a bit shy at first, but once they got the hang of things, it was a raging battle of colors–complete with laughter and shrieks of delight! And a few tears. 😉 It was impossible to keep the little ones (2 year olds) out of the battle, so we gave in and let them make their own messes, but my daughter decided halfway through the battle that she’d had enough and just wanted me to hold her. You win some, you lose some…

If you’re planning your own color war, just keep in mind that the color and consistency of the store-bought holi powder is far superior to the DIY powder. The colors are spectacular, and the consistency is dust-like. Here’s a link to the one we purchased: Holi Powder. On the other hand, the kids couldn’t have cared less! They were just as happy with the mom-made color powder as they were with the rather pricey holi powder a couple of us ordered from Amazon. If your goal is to take photos of bright clouds of color, invest in the store-bought powder, or perhaps use the holi powder for the first round/photographs, then move on to the DIY powder to save money.

Finally, the best way to end a color war is with water because…no one doesn’t like water play on a hot summer day.

Water Balloons

 

DIY Play Dough Recipe (for 4 different colors):

Play Dough

Materials:

4 cups of flour
1 and 1/2 cups of salt
1 cup of hot water
6 teaspoons of vegetable oil
Food coloring

1. Thoroughly combine the 4 cups of flour and 1 and 1/2 cups of salt in a large mixing bowl.

2. Place 1/4 cup of hot water in 4 individual bowls. Add 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of vegetable oil and the appropriate amount of food coloring to each bowl. If you’re using liquid food coloring, you’ll probably want about 30 drops of each color to make a nice dark shade. If you’re using gel food coloring, use approximately 1/2 teaspoon of each color.

3. Add 1 and 1/4 cup of the flour/salt mixture to each bowl. Mix ingredients together as thoroughly as possible with a spoon (no need to get your hands dirty!). You may still have clumps and unmixed portions of the mixture.

4. Sprinkle a small amount of flour on a cutting board or other dry surface and dump the contents of one bowl onto your work surface. Kneed and combine until the play dough is no longer sticky/tacky. Repeat this step with the remaining bowls of play dough.

NOTE: Store play dough in ziplock bags or an airtight container to prevent it from drying out.

DIY Recipe for Color Powder

Materials:
3 heaping tablespoons of corn starch
Small amount of water
Food coloring

Additional materials:
Aluminum foil or saran wrap
Ziplock bags
Rolling pin

1. Place 3 heaping tablespoons of corn starch in a bowl. Add a small amount of water (approximately 4 tablespoons) and mix. The corn starch will have a strange, difficult to mix consistency. It will seem like it’s halfway between a liquid and a solid. If you’re having trouble mixing it, add a little more water.

2. Once the water/corn starch is thoroughly combined, add food coloring. As the mixture dries, the color will lighten slightly so be liberal with the food coloring! I used 30 drops of food coloring in each batch, and the colors weren’t quite as dark as I would have liked.

3. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or saran wrap and pour the mixture onto the cookie sheet. For faster drying, pour the mixture into small globs. The bigger the glob, the longer it will take to dry. Being a rather impatient person, I poured my mixture in thin lines. Dried super fast!

4. Allow the mixture to sit for as long as it takes to DRY COMPLETELY. It will become brittle and break into pieces when it is completely dry. In our humid, non-air conditioned apartment, it took about 2 hours.

Color Powder 1

5. Break the dried mixture into pieces and place in a ziplock bag. I just picked up the edges of the aluminum foil and poured the pieces into the bag. Press most of the air out of the bag and begin rolling over the mixture with a rolling pin to break it back into a powder. Voila! Color powder!

Color Powder 2

NOTE: If you make the color powder in advance, I would recommend storing it in bowls or containers WITHOUT a lid. If the container is sealed, condensation will begin to form and the powder will become mushy. Not the look you’re going for. 😉

 

Disclosure: This post contains links to products on amazon.com. These are products that I purchased and used for my own projects with no compensation. However, if you click on the link and purchase the product, I will receive a small fee from Amazon.com.
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Preschool Adventures in Seoul: Camping in Korea

The amazing metropolis of Seoul, despite its many challenges, has so much to offer for families with small children, and I’ve found over the past year and a half we’ve lived here that there’s no shortage of fun things to do. However, sometimes, we just need to get out of the city, breathe some fresh air and relax so we planned a camping trip to the small town of Gapyeong, just 90 minutes drive east of Seoul for Memorial Day weekend. We invited some friends to join us, and since we were traveling with camping newbies, we decided to go to a campground that we’ve been to before–just to keep things simple.

Camping in Korea is not quite like camping in the U.S. There are two different types of campgrounds: national parks and privately owned grounds. I haven’t tried camping at any of the national parks, so I don’t know how easy/difficult it is for foreigners to reserve a spot, but camping at privately owned campgrounds couldn’t be easier. If you’re a camping pro with all of your own equipment, sites range from 15,000W/night to 35,000W/night, but if you’re new to camping, don’t want to invest in all the equipment or you left your camping gear in storage back home, fully equipped campsites (tent, sunshade/tarp, tables, chairs, gas grill, gas lantern, and cooking gear) are 100,000W/night to 150,000W/night.

For our recent trip, we went to a campground called Allyman Camping. This is our third trip there, and we really love the place. Compared to other campgrounds that I’ve looked at, this site is the most secluded and private, although this observation comes solely from photos of other campgrounds I’ve seen online. 😉

Allyman Campground Entrance

The drive out there was a tough one. We left the city around 10:30am, along with what seemed like every other single person living in Seoul. We were on the Gyeongchun Expressway (Hwy 60) for nearly 2 hours, at times going less than 10km/hr. Ugh… And when we stopped at the Gapyeong rest area for lunch, it was packed. On the bright side, I randomly ran into a friend and her family at the rest area, which was a nice treat! A trip that should have taken approximately 90 minutes ended up taking 3 hours. So, note to self: leave the city EARLY to beat the Saturday traffic! Thankfully, all the children kept it together, and when we finally arrived at the campgrounds, they were elated, running out of the car straight to the trampoline.

Our campsite was fully prepped and ready to go when we arrived. Three tents, a very large sunshade, tables, chairs… You really can’t beat arriving at a campsite and just kicking your feet up!

Allyman camping

 

Aside from the trampoline, there are water sports available right at the campground: motor boat rides (20,000W for 20 minutes), kayaking (20,000W for 1 hour rental, both 1 and 2 person kayaks available), wake boarding, banana boat riding, and peanut boat riding. I’m not really sure what the last two are, but I think they involve riding a banana/peanut shaped float while being pulled by a boat. If you’re not into water sports, but just want to sit and enjoy the view of the river, the dock has a shaded area with tables and chairs so you can sit, drink and enjoy.

Allyman Camping Water Sports Kayaking Allyman CampingAllyman Camping Dock

If you’d rather stay on dry land, then there’s plenty to do in the Gapyeong area such as taking a trip out to Nami Island, riding the Bike Rails (post to come), eating ddalkgalbi (spicy chicken stir-fry, the regional specialty), ATV rentals, bungee jumping, and more! The only downside to Allyman Campgrounds is that it’s a bit of a drive to reach any of the local attractions. Nami Island and the Bike Rails are approximately 45 minutes drive away.

Map to Allyman Campgrounds

 

We had originally hoped to ride ATVs, but the manager of the campground told us that he couldn’t in good conscience recommend the ATV rental place nearby (it’s on the way to the campground), especially not for small children because there isn’t a set trail. Instead, he recommended we take the kids to the Bike Rails, which turned out to be a huge hit (post on the Bike Rail coming soon!). If you’re interested in riding ATVs and don’t have small children to consider, pricing tends to range from 10,000W to 15,000W for a specified distance or time.

Bike Rail 1 Bike Rail 2

 

The Bike Rails are just what the name infers. Old, out-of-commission railroad tracks have been turned into a fun family activity. You rent a bike (either 2-person or 4-person bikes) and you get to pedal yourself along the old railroad tracks, enjoying the beautiful riverside scenery along the way. To make it more fun (and less work), uphill climbs are motorized so you can stop pedaling, and downhill rides are well, just fun! There are several locations to ride the Bike Rails in the Gapyeong area, and my boys made us promise to take them again to the one where they get to pedal through a mountain tunnel. 🙂

The second night we were there, the weather was not in our favor and the day’s occasional rain showers turned into a torrential downpour. Fortunately, the large sunshade/tarp kept us dry, and after we got the kids in bed, we spent our evening sitting by the fire, drinking beers and listening to the rain. Not a bad way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

Getting There:

The Allyman campground is nearly impossible to find if you don’t have a GPS (or a reliable map/app on your smartphone). The address is: Gangwon-do, Chuncheon-si, Nam-myun, Gwanchun-ri 383 (or 380). My Woori Navi (English navigation) system had difficult time locating the address because there’s really nothing out there, so be sure you have a good idea of where you’re going before you get in your car. You can copy and paste this address into Naver Maps to pinpoint it: 강원도 춘천시 남면 관천리 380

Cost:

The price depends on when you’re going (weekday v. weekend and off-peak v. peak season).

If you’re bringing your own gear: Mon-Thurs: 25,000W/night, Fri-Sun: 30,000W/night or 35,000W/night during peak season
If you want the full set-up: Mon-Thurs: 100,000W/night, Fri-Sun: 120,000W/night or 130,000W/night and 145,000W/night during peak season, respectively.

The dates of peak season are generally the end of July and the first couple weeks of August.

Helpful Hints:

  • If you’re interested in reserving a spot at Allyman Campgrounds, you’ll need to enlist the help of a Korean-speaking friend. The manager doesn’t speak any English, and payment is required in advance via bank transfer. If you don’t have a Korean bank account, you can go to an Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK) branch and deposit payment into the Allyman account.
  • Saturdays are generally booked well in advance, especially during peak season (July and August). If you can swing a mid-week camping trip, then chances are you’ll have the place to yourself.
  • Bring your own firewood. Firewood is available at the campground, but it’s approximately 3 times more expensive if you purchase it at the site. On previous visits, we purchased firewood at the campgrounds and spent over 150,000W on firewood alone for a 2 night stay. This time, we wised up, purchased firewood in advance and took it with us. We purchased from Chamnamunara (website in Korean only), and the best part? They deliver (within Seoul) for free! Be sure to order it a few days in advance if you’d like to have it delivered. We purchased 8 cords at 10,000W each (plus, Chamnamunara threw in a huge bag of kindling for free) and brought 3 back with us, so 5 cords of wood should be enough to keep your fire going for a 3 day/2 night camping trip. One thing to keep in mind though–firewood takes up a lot of space! Taking your own firewood is great if you have the space in your car, but if you don’t, then just mentally prepare yourself for the cost of firewood at the campground and work it into your camping budget.Chamnamunara firewood
  • Fires are only allowed in the designated fire pits (provided), and they come with a rack that allows you to cook over the fire. However, grill grates are not provided. You can purchase disposable grill grates at Emart (5,000W to 7,000W, depending on size). Also, if you intend to cook over your campfire, don’t forget to bring your own tongs!Allyman Camping Firepit
  • Bring your own bedding, food, drinking water, and toilet paper! There’s plenty of running water–men and women’s restrooms as well as a separate shower room for both men and women. There’s also an area for washing dishes; however, you’re on your own for drinking water. Also, the showers are Korean style, meaning it’s just one large room with several shower heads. No stalls for privacy! So if you’re not comfortable showering in a space where someone can walk in and see you in your birthday suit, be prepared to be stinky or just shower really early in the morning when all the Koreans are sleeping off their night of soju consumption. 😉 And ladies, guard your toilet paper. Don’t leave it in the bathroom with the intention of sharing it with your camping neighbors. Someone will take it.
  • Bring your own gas canisters for the gas range and gas lanterns. You can find them at Emart or Homeplus. We took a 4 pack, which was plenty.
  • You are responsible for separating your trash–paper, plastic, glass, cans, regular trash, and food trash. The best way to do it is to take extra plastic bags and separate as you go. Collect all your food trash after each meal and dump it into the food trash bin immediately. While we haven’t seen or experienced any wild animals at the campground, there are plenty of bugs and birds looking to get into your garbage. There’s also a designated area to dispose of the embers/ashes from your fire pit.

Preschool Adventures in Seoul: Ichon Hangang Park

Ichon Hangang Park Playground

After having lived here for over a year and a half, I finally made my way over to Ichon Hangang Park, despite it being so close. Although in my defense, part of it is because we live so close to Hangang Yeouido Park. I wish we had found this place sooner! Hangang Yeouido Park is expansive and has a very open layout, which makes it great for activities such as flying kites, riding bikes, and throwing frisbees, but Ichon Hangang Park, while by no means small, has a much more cozy feel to it, particularly the playground area, and offers spaces for older kids who are past the playground age.

My kids and I made our way there around 10am on a weekday, as always, with the hopes that the playground won’t be too crowded. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware that this particular day was Korean Labor Day and kids were out of school. Oops… Luckily, we were there early enough to claim one of the tables and for the kids to have free reign over the place for a little while before the masses of moms and kids started showing up and literally setting up camp. 😉

The playground at Ichon Hangang Park is definitely one of the best that I’ve been to. The Children’s Woodland Playground at Seoul Forest is also amazing, but this one is far more toddler-friendly. The large playground structure has a number of things to climb and slides (or “weeeeees” as my littlest one calls them), but the best part is, there are no gaping holes or areas without a railing for fearless toddlers to fall or jump from. And not having to hover over my child as she plays is worth A LOT. During our 2 hours there, my daughter still managed to tumble down a slide head-first and come home with a scraped knee and a few fresh bruises, but this is The Way of the Toddler.

Ichon Hangang Park Playground

For older kids, the playground features a zip-line and a large rope/climbing structure. And when your kids tire of running and climbing and swinging and sliding, there’s a large sandpit, otherwise known as Endless Fun because what child doesn’t love sand? My only mistake was not taking along our sand box toys, although I think I guilt-tripped a reluctant little girl into sharing her toys with my kids!

In addition to the expansive playground, there’s a large shaded area with benches for parents to sit and watch the kids play, and if you’ve got older kids who are into skateboarding or playing basketball–this place has it all!

There’s also a public bathroom nearby–always important when out and about with small children.

Getting There:

Ichon Hangang Park is within walking distance of Ichon Station (Yongsan Visitor Gate), but it is also an easy drive if the thought of navigating the busy Seoul streets with small children doesn’t overly appeal to you.

map to ichon hangang park

By subway/walking: from Ichon Station, come out Exit 4. Immediately to the left as you exit the station is a walking path that takes you out to a main road. Continue straight until you reach the riverside! There will be a parking lot and a 7-Eleven to the right. Take the path to the right and walk past the soccer field. There’s an additional field, then the playground on the right.

Driving: If you’re using a navigation system, here’s the address: 62, Ichon-ro 72 gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul

From post (Visitor Gate/Gate 13), make a right onto the street just outside the gate, then make the first left (over the railroad tracks). Continue down the road until you reach a T-intersection. At the T-intersection, make a left. At the 5th intersection (Ichon-ro 72-gil), make a right (there’s a sign for Hangang Park). Continue down the street, under the overpass and the parking lot is on the right.

Parking is plentiful and inexpensive. It’s 1,000W for the first 30 minutes, then 200W for each additional 10 minutes for a daily maximum of 10,000W

Preschool Adventures in Seoul: Bike Riding at Yeouido Hangang Park

I seriously can’t remember the last time I rode a bike. It was A LONG TIME AGO. So when my brother and I took my 5 year old boys (and their 2 year old sister) to Yeouido Hangang Park to ride their new Big Boy Bikes—with little boy training wheels–the thought of riding a bike myself hadn’t even crossed my mind. It’s been that long. But as the boys pedaled past me, and I struggled to keep up with a toddler in my arms, the solution was obvious. And the phrase: It’s like riding a bike… I can now state with utmost confidence that it is, in fact, true. And the best part was being able to strap my crazy toddler into the child seat and immobilize her for an hour.

If you’ve never been to Hangang Park at Yeouido Island, it’s lovely. For us, it’s a quick 5-minute drive across Mapo Bridge, so we go there often. In the summer, kids can splash around and play in the elaborate fountain/wading pools (I don’t know what to call it, but it’s wonderful!), there’s plenty of grass along the riverside for kids to run and play, and of course, because this is Korea, there are plenty of cute photo ops to preserve the memory of your trip to Yeouido for all of eternity. The park also has playgrounds, ducks to feed, and what really came in handy for me during our last trip there–bicycle rentals.

The standard bicycles that are offered are pretty adorable in that 1950s, little white basket in the front for the flowers you picked up at the local market sort of way. I really felt like I should have been wearing capri pants and canvas sneakers with a gingham scarf tied around my neck. Sadly for me though, I was unable to make such a statement. 😉

Getting There:

There are a number of places to rent bikes along the riverside. If you take the subway, the stop is Yeouinaru Station, Exit 2 or 3. From either exit, just walk down into the park and walk a short distance in either direction and there are rental stations. If you drive there, cross Mapo Bridge and make the second left. The IFC Mall will be on your right. Make the next left and proceed straight until you come to a T-intersection. Make a left and the entrance to the parking lot will be on the right. Parking is approximately 2,000W/hr. map yeouido park

Bike Rentals:

The rates for rentals are:

Standard 1 person bikes (includes those with child seats attached) and kids bikes (with training wheels): 3,000W for the first hour and 500W for each additional 15 minutes

2 person bikes and “advanced” bikes: 6,000W for the first hour and 1,000W for each additional 15 minutes

When you rent the bike, you must leave your phone number and an ID card. You’re given a receipt with a time-stamp on it and off you go! You must return the bike to the same rental station, and your ID card is returned to you.

For the more serious cyclists, there’s a bike lane along the river, but if you’re like us and meandering along the river while trying to prevent your children from killing themselves, then I recommend staying off the bike lanes! There are additional paths that are wide enough for pedestrians and cyclists. Riding Bikes at Yeouido Park We rode our bikes along the river, played at the playground, ate some Korean picnic-y type food (kimbab, ddukboki and soondae) and headed home. All in all, a very successful day with the kids! Next trip to the park… We’re riding one of those swan boats! Lunch at Yeouido ParkETA: Turns out, on closer inspection, that the “swan boats” are actually duck boats. If you’re interested in riding them, here’s what you need to know:

Motorized boats cost 20,000W for 40 minutes
Pedal boats cost 15,000W for 40 minutes

The duck boats are limited to 4 people. So for a family of 5, we were told NO WAY, even though my daughter and my combined weight is probably less than the average male AND we paid to ride the “duck boats” AND my kids were close to tears at being told they couldn’t ride them. Instead, we were given a boat that can only be described as a young child’s circus nightmare. Honestly, I don’t know how else to describe it.

Resigned to our fate, we took this brightly-colored monstrosity called a boat out onto the water. Ten minutes later, my 5-year olds began whining that they were bored. Sigh… We toughed it out, making laps around the small, enclosed space for about 30 minutes before returning the boat, thus ending our swan/duck boat riding adventure. :-/

 

Preschool Adventures in Seoul: Seoul Zoo at Seoul Grand Park

Seoul Zoo

For this week’s Preschool Adventures in Seoul, we found ourselves at the Seoul Zoo (English website). The weather has been amazing lately, and the pollution levels have been the lowest we’ve seen in what feels like an eternity… So we ventured out to enjoy the fresh air and look at some animals. I did some quick research before heading out, and since it’s a short subway ride from Yongsan, I decided to take the subway although parking is also cheap and plentiful (4,000W). The website indicated that the zoo is out Exit 2 of Seoul Grand Park station, so we got off the train and made our way towards the zoo. There aren’t any signs (none that I could see, at least) that point you towards the zoo, but when you come out of the subway station, just walk straight. There is a large building-like structure directly in front of you–the Seoul Grand Park Information Desk. Up the stairs and on the other side of the “building” is the tram stop. And rather than making the mistake we made… TAKE THE TRAM (aka the Elephant Train). It’s 1000W for adults, 600W for 13-18yo, and 500W for 6-12yo and it gets you to the zoo (the first stop) in a matter of minutes. With a group of 4 moms and 9 small children, the walk to the zoo took nearly 45 minutes. And the kids complained. A LOT. 😉 There’s also a Sky Lift that looked like a lot of fun, but I wasn’t sure I could manage all 3 of my kids on the Sky Lift by myself!

Cherry blossoms were in full bloom, but even that wasn't enough to cheer up my boys up during the long walk to the zoo!
Cherry blossoms were in full bloom, but even that wasn’t enough to cheer up my boys up during the long walk to the zoo!

*Be sure to check out the zoo’s website. There’s a lot of very useful information on the site, and it’s actually written in English, not Konglish! 😉

Aside from discovering the merits of the tram a little too late, there’s quite a bit of information about “Seoul Grand Park” that I was completely clueless about before venturing out there. Seoul Grand Park, as the name suggests, is a grand park, and the Seoul Zoo is just one part of it. The park also includes a separate Children’s Zoo, botanical gardens, Seoul Land (an amusement park), camping, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), and Avion (an indoor children’s play park). Needless to say, Seoul Grand Park covers quite a large area of land, which is why it took is SO LONG to walk to the zoo!

We finally made it to the zoo, met up with some other friends, wrangled our army of children together and began our adventure. Our group of 8 moms and 13 children VERY SLOWLY made our way into the zoo. We somehow managed to see a few animals during our time there–zebras, giraffes, gorillas, chimpanzees, lions and elephants. According to the map, we only saw about a quarter of the zoo.

Map of Seoul Zoo

On the bright side, we took our own zoo to the zoo… 😉 Despite only being able to travel through the large park at a snail’s pace, the kids had an absolute blast. They were as excited about spending time with their friends as they were about seeing the animals, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Running around Seoul, adventuring with preschoolers, I’ve definitely learned that even if things don’t work out as planned (such as seeing lots of animals at the zoo), fun happens at every turn.

On the bright side, only having seen such a small portion of the zoo, it’ll seem like a whole new zoo the next time we venture out there! As it came time for us to leave, my kids and I had to break apart from the group and hurry home to get my littlest one down for a much-needed nap and my big boys off to their hapkido class. We hopped on the tram and made it to the subway station in a matter of minutes (woohoo!). See how happy they are on the tram?

IMG_7186The ice cream may have helped.

Other tips about the Seoul Zoo:

  • Strollers are available to rent so if you don’t want to navigate the subway with a stroller, you can rent one to use in the zoo. Stroller rental is located just inside the main entrance of the zoo past the Visitor Center on the right.
  • There’s plenty of areas to sit and have a picnic if you choose to bring your own food, but food (restaurants as well as fast food) is available inside the zoo.
  • There’s a playground! We didn’t even make it that far…
  • If you have small children, consider taking them to the Children’s Zoo. It’s just before the main zoo, and it’s significantly smaller and more manageable with little ones. The tickets for the Children’s Zoo also allow admission into the Botanical Gardens, but it’s separate from the main zoo. Prices for the Children’s Zoo are listed here.
  • The Seoul Zoo and the Seoul Grand Park is not the same as the Children’s Grand Park, which also has a zoo! Here’s a post I wrote about the Children’s Grand Park–also a wonderful place to take your kids.

Getting to the Seoul Zoo:

By Subway: Take Line 4 to the Seoul Grand Park station, exit 2. There’s an elevator just before you get to exit 2 on the same side.

By Car: If you have a navigation system, you should be able to enter Seoul Zoo or Seoul Grand Park and find the address. The physical address for the zoo is Gyeonggi-do, Gwacheon-si, Makgye-dong, 159-1. Otherwise, directions to the zoo can be found here.

Tickets:

Adults: 3000W

Youth (ages 13-18/middle and high school): 2000W

Children (ages 6-12/elementary school): 1000W

6 and under: FREE

Hours:

Summer (March – October): 9AM-7PM

Winter (November – February): 9AM-6PM

There are special evening hours during the summer, but the dates for the summer of 2014 have not been posted yet on the website.

Shopping for Kid’s Clothes at Namdaemun Market

namdaemun children's market

Namdaemun Market (English website) is either a shopper’s paradise or your own personal purgatory. Just depends on how you look at it! 😉 It’s the oldest and the largest traditional market in Korea, and it seriously has everything–clothing, shoes, accessories, bedding, cookware, art supplies, toys, paper goods, food products… The list goes on. If there’s something you want/need, Namdaemun Market probably has it. For a really great price. But chances are, you’ll get lost, trampled, shoved, yelled at by an old Korean lady, and you’ll probably need to resort to sign language somewhere in the process… So here are some tips and helpful hints to make your journey into my shopping paradise just a little bit easier!

The Best Times to go Shopping:

Koreans dress for all four seasons, meaning that they have designated Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter Wardrobes. As Americans, we generally combine our spring/summer and fall/winter wardrobes, dressing in layers and wearing scarves, cardigans, jackets, and coats as necessary. Also, because a vast majority of the places we go are temperature-controlled, we don’t really have a need for thick, fleece-lined jeans, for example. But Koreans like to be warm. Very, very warm. So I never buy winter clothes here in Korea–for myself or for my children. They’re just too thick, and we’d pretty much turn into a giant puddle of sweat in Korean winter clothes. However, that being said, be prepared to be told that your children are cold by every Korean person you pass.

I limit my shopping to summer and fall clothing for my kids (because spring clothes fall into my winter category and winter clothes are unnecessary for my sweaty children). Here’s a general timeline of when each season’s lines are released, so plan your shopping trips accordingly!

Late February/Early March – Spring line released
Late April/Early May – Spring clearance
Early May – Summer line released
August – Summer clearance
Late August – Fall line released
Mid-November – Fall clearance
Late-November – Winter line released
February – Winter clearance

The market is open from 6am to 6pm, but individual vendors may have different hours. On Sundays, most of the open/street-side markets are open, but the vendors inside the buildings that make up the market are closed. Weekday mornings from 10am to noon are best for shopping if you have certain purchases you need to make in a limited amount of time (which is the case for most moms I know!). It starts to get pretty hectic and crowded around noon, so I try to arrive at 10am and leave by lunchtime. This way, I don’t have to shove past hordes of people to get what I need!

How to get there:

I’ve only ever taken the subway there, but I know that there’s parking in Samick Fashion Town and in Shinsegae Department Store. If you take the subway, go out Exit 6 of Hoehyeon station. This is what you’ll see:

namdaemun directions

You probably won’t see the man who walked right into the middle of my first shot, but who knows! 😉 I usually take a short-cut right up to the children’s stores by making an immediate right towards the KB Kookmin Bank, turn left in the bank’s tiny parking lot, and go through the small “gate” to the left (pictured in the far right photo). That puts you right on the street/alley with all the children’s stores. And there are buildings and buildings of children’s stores!

namdaemun childrens alley

There are many, many street-side shops along the alley with children’s shoes and accessories, but the real magic happens inside the buildings–hundreds and hundreds of stalls of absolutely adorable children’s clothing. The best part is that just about every stall has a basket of clothing marked 5,000W. This is where the treasures are to be found!

namdaemun children's clothing

Children’s Clothing Size Conversion:

But finding the children’s clothing market is one thing. Selecting clothes and purchasing the right size in another. If shopping in a foreign country isn’t difficult enough, there are two sets of sizes to keep in mind. Korean children’s clothing at Namdaemun Market (Korean Size B) are sized differently from clothing you would find at a department store (Korean Size A). So here’s a handy chart to help you out!

*Keep in mind that like American manufacturers, there are differences in sizing between various brands so this chart is meant to be a general guideline to children’s clothing sizes. It’s best to know your child(ren)’s height in centimeters so if there’s any confusion, the vendor can help you purchase the correct size.

Korean Children's Clothing Size Chart

Other Helpful Hints:

  • Clothes for babies and toddlers tend to fit fine, but if you have a child who’s on the tall side, purchasing pants may be an issue beyond 3T size. I don’t purchase pants in Korea for my 5 year old boys who wear American size 7 because the pant legs are too short.
  • Your Western fashion sensibilities may make shopping for boys, especially older boys, a bit of a challenge in Korea. 😉 But that may just be me.
  • Korean clothes aren’t made for American dryers. Although the construction of the clothing is fine, my problem is with the fabric pilling (usually stretch cotton blends). Your best bet to keep them in good condition is to hang dry. However, if you’re like me and A) have too many darn kids/articles of tiny clothing that need to be washed, folded and put away, B) your kids are constantly spilling/staining/ruining their clothes, and C) your kids grow at a rate that you just can’t comprehend and clothes just don’t last that long anyway–just toss them in the dryer with the expectation that they won’t last more than one season.
  • If vendors ask you how old your child is to help with sizing, they’re asking for Korean age. It’s far more confusing that just tacking on another year, so it’s best to just tell them how tall your child is in centimeters.
  • Some items will be clearly marked with pricing (usually a handwritten sign), meaning that particular item is on sale. For most items, you’ll have to ask the price. And despite what you may have heard, there is very little haggling that happens now at the markets. Vendors may lower prices if you’re purchasing a large quantity from them, or they may only have a handful of sizes left and are willing to sell at a lower price, but if you tell them it’s too expensive and ask them to lower the price, chances are, they’ll refuse on principle. Then curse at you as you walk away.
  • Some of my favorite children’s shops are in a building that’s not dedicated to children’s clothing. Samick Fashion Town is located across the street from Mama Children’s Wear, and the 1st floor (one floor down from where the main entrance is) is all children’s stuff (2nd and 3rd are women’s clothing, 4th is accessories, 5th is men’s clothing, 6th is shoes, and 7th and 8th are “discount clothing” although I haven’t really figured that one out…).
    samick fashion town
  • Cash. Cash. Cash. Most vendors do not accept credit card. Bring Korean Won.
  • The children’s clothing buildings ARE NOT stroller friendly. If you must take your child with you, and s/he is not old enough to walk, use a carrier.
  • There’s a handy interactive map IN ENGLISH on the Namdaemun website. Super useful!

Happy shopping! And stay tuned for future posts on shopping at Namdaemun–women’s clothing, art and craft supplies at the 5 story Alpha, and the best Korean street food!

Dibo Village, Mokdong

Dibo Village

This week’s Preschool Adventures in Seoul took us south of the Han River to a themed children’s indoor play park called Dibo Village (website in Korean only). (There’s another Dibo Village in Jung-gu, which I’m sure we’ll visit sometime in the near future!) This particular Dibo Village was fantastic, and one huge plus–the food was actually pretty decent, something I can’t say for many of the kid’s cafes and indoor play places we’ve been to. And for moms who don’t often get to enjoy a nice, quiet meal, this is important!

Of the indoor play parks that we’ve been to, Dibo Village is one of the best, not just because of the food. 😉 It’s well-organized, and there is a plethora–yes, I said plethora!–of things for kids to do. Of course, they have the obligatory bounce house, ball pits, and playground structure, which are sure to keep your kids busy for hours, but Dibo Village also offers a theater show with real characters in costume, cooking classes, arts and crafts classes, a sandbox, and a 3D show!

Dibo Village Sandbox

All of the organized activities are on a schedule, and times are very clearly listed on signs outside the various classroom/play areas. Instructor certifications are also posted outside the classrooms (for example, the instructor who leads the cooking class is trained and certified to teach cooking classes). Most of these activities are about 15-20 minutes long, so your kids will have plenty of time to play and participate in the activities. The language barrier is always less of an issue for kids than it is for adults, but don’t worry because the manager of this Dibo Village SPEAKS ENGLISH! He was very friendly and worked hard to ensure that the children (as well as the moms) were having a great time.

Also, of all the kids’ play parks that I’ve been to, the staff here (not only the manager) was very attentive to the children’s needs, particularly in the baby/toddler play area, making sure that the littles ones had a great time without being trampled by rambunctious older kids.

Dibo Village 6

Here are a few tips to make your trip to Dibo Village a little easier:

1. The best time to come is after 3pm on weekdays. Weekday mornings are typically very busy with large groups from local preschools. We arrived at 10:30am, and by 10:45am, about 6 different preschool groups arrived. It was loud and crowded until the Dibo show started and most of the children went to the theater.

Dibo Village 4

2. Rooms are available for birthday parties. Parties require a minimum of 10 children paying admission and use of the party room is free. Call ahead though to make a reservation.

3. Underground parking is available for free (with validation–be sure to take your parking ticket up to have it validated) for 2.5 hours. We were there for almost 3 hours and parking was 1,000W.

4. Lockers are provided free of charge (to the right as you enter the play area).


Dibo Village 3 Dibo Village 1

 

5. The menu at Han’s Cafe is in both English and Korean. There’s a small children’s menu as well, but small plates are also available to split larger/adult portion items.

Dibo Village 5

Cost: For 2 hours of playtime

0-12 months: free

13-24 months: 9,000W

2 yrs + : 15,000W

Adults: 5,000W

For each additional 10 minutes of playtime: 1,000W/kids and 500W/adults

 

Getting There:

Address for driving: YangCheon-gu, Mok 1-dong, 923-6 Korean Artin Center, 7th floor

By subway: Omokgyo Station, Line 5. Exit 2. Walk straight out exit 2. The Artin Center building is on the second block down on the right side.

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 11.25.30 AM

Website: www.dibovillage.kr (Korean only)

Phone: 02.2655.3450