Tag Archives: Korea

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.

Yellow Ribbons for Sewol

For the past week, my heart–like so many others–has been broken into a million pieces as I watched the news and read countless stories about the tragedy that hit South Korea. The world watched in horror as hundreds of children died, and I wept as I imagined how scared they must have been, how their parents waited helplessly as hope of rescue faded. Even as we celebrated Easter with our friends and family and as I took my kids to the playground and to T-ball practice, my thoughts continued to return to those lives lost and the parents who are currently living their worst nightmare.

The past several days, I’ve been thinking about something, anything I could do… And I’ve felt so helpless. I’m in the process of writing a pattern for the national flower of Korea, the mugunghwa, or the Rose of Sharon. It’s nothing really in the grand scheme of things… But this morning, I noticed that there was suddenly a MASSIVE spike in visitors to my site from Korea, specifically to my ribbon appliqué pattern. I did some searching, and the visitors were directed to my blog from a Korean knitting forum as well as a couple of Korean knitting blogs. My ribbon pattern is now being used to make yellow ribbons in memory of those who died on the Sewol.

Ribbons for SewolThe pattern has also been translated into Korean.

I’m both honored and heartbroken.

If you use my pattern, I ask that you make one in yellow and say a prayer so that those who perished, those who lost loved ones, and those who survived may find peace.