Tag Archives: 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: 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.

An Exciting New Endeavor

My blogging silence over the past couple of weeks is due to an exciting new business endeavor that I’ve decided to take on. It’s something that I absolutely love to do, and even before my official “announcement,” I’ve already got clients lined up and work to keep me busy over the next couple months (mostly because of my amazing friends, the power of word-of-mouth, and the wonderful community that I am blessed to be a part of here in Seoul).

So here goes… I’m super excited to announce delightful. event designs by julia (that’s me!).

Delightful Design

I am now offering event design services, focusing on creative and fun parties for kids although I would also be thrilled to design, plan, and style cocktail parties, wine tasting parties, dinner parties, and maybe even someday… The ultimate party–weddings! However, my focus is on smaller celebrations where I can really tailor the design and the experience for specific groups of people, whether it’s something like the Rainbow War Party for young children or an intimate cocktail party for close friends.

For the time being, my services are limited to Seoul, South Korea, but my Party-in-a-box options will be available for shipping throughout Korea very soon. Links to come for a new website and Facebook page!

And don’t worry! 😉 I’ll still be here…somewhere between the stitches… Blogging about my adventures in Seoul, all my crafty endeavors, and, of course, the fabulous parties that I have the privilege of designing! <3

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 Art and Craft Supplies at Namdaemun – Alpha Store

 

Namdaemun Alpha alley view
Alpha store in Namdaemun, alley entrance

Since deciding not to send my 5 year old boys to preschool this past year, I’ve become a Pinterest addict, searching for preschool crafts and activities to do with my kids. I try to stick to activities that I have supplies for already, or I give myself time to order online (Amazon.com and Hobby Lobby ship to APO rather quickly) because taking to preschoolers and a toddler shopping isn’t exactly my idea of fun! However, there are times when I really need to get out for some art and craft supplies, both for my kids and for myself. Plus, there are quite a few art supplies that are significantly less expensive here in Korea!

You’ve probably seen the yellow and blue Alpha sign in various neighborhoods around Seoul, but the shops tend to be relatively small and limited in what they carry. The smaller Alpha stores (Korean website only) tend to have basic stationary, office supplies, art supplies and a limited amount of children’s items (crayons, pastels, stickers, etc.). However, the large 5-story Alpha in Namdaemun has it all. If you’re an artist, a crafter, a parent–well, basically, if you’re human, there’s something for you at Alpha.

How to get there:

The 5 story Alpha is visible and accessible from both the main road (Namdaemun-ro) that runs east/west along the northern edge of Namdaemun Market as well one of the alleys of the market.

The address for driving is: Seoul-si, Jung-gu, Namdaemunno 4(sa)-ga, 20-42. I’m not sure what the parking situation is there, although I would imagine that it’s not simple.

View of entrance from Namdaemunno 4(sa)-ga
View of entrance from Namdaemunno 4(sa)-ga

I usually take the subway to Hoehyeon station, Exit 6. From exit 6, walk straight until you reach the “gate” into Namdaemun Market on your right. Turn right into the market and continue walking straight (past all the children’s apparel shops) until you reach a T-intersection. Turn left, then continue walking straight and Alpha will be on the right.

Namdaemun:Alpha Map

What you’ll find at Alpha:

The 5-story Alpha carries just about everything from nail stickers and beauty products to children’s toys and puzzles, felt by the yard, paper plates, light bulbs and aluminum foil (there’s a whole section of housewares!), canvases, paint, sketchbooks, paper…

Alpha Namdaemun children's crafts Alpha Namdaemun art supplies Alpha Namdaemun ready to hang artworkAlpha Namdaemun canvases

 

Worried about how to get your purchases home? One of the best things about Korea is the delivery system. I purchased several very large canvases (which, by the way, are significantly cheaper than U.S. prices) and had them delivered to my home the next day for 4,000W!

This Alpha store is NOT stroller friendly. There are lots of stairs, and it’s built like a maze, so if you take your children with you, keep them close! I lost my husband in there once. 😉

Happy shopping and crafting!

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.

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Website: www.dibovillage.kr (Korean only)

Phone: 02.2655.3450

More Seoul Life…

Preschool Adventures in Seoul

Over the past couple months as I’ve made the change over from my old Blogger blog to this new one, I’ve also thought about pulling together another blog of mine–Preschool Adventures in Seoul–into this one. My readership here at jkwdesigns has grown significantly recently, and about half of my visitors now are from Korea, so I’ve decided to bring it all together rather than trying to manage two separate blogs on two different platforms.

I realize that this means that some of my posts will be relevant to some of my subscribers, and some posts won’t be of any interest at all, but I hope that you’ll stick with me! Although I love crafting and cooking, and I love sharing new recipes and knitting and crocheting patterns, being a mom is at the absolute center of my life.

As part of Our Preschool Adventures in Seoul, I will also be importing an ongoing list of our favorite books as well as craft activities that the kids and I have worked on at home. Hopefully, this is information that moms with little ones will find useful. Thank you to everyone who visits my life over here…somewhere between the stitches!

Shopping for Craft Supplies at Dongdaemun Fabric Market

Living in Seoul, I miss the convenience of jumping in the car and driving to my local Michael’s, AC Moore or Joann’s. And I definitely miss having access to 40% off coupons! Shopping for crafting supplies in Korea is much more of an adventure than a convenience, but once you get the hang of it, Seoul offers a veritable treasure trove of supplies for craft-lovers.

Dongdaemun Fabric Market is a 5-level (6 including the basement level), 4 building maze of everything a knitter/crocheter/sewer/crafter could possibly need. And if you’ve never been before, prepare to be amazed and overwhelmed. The easiest way to get there is by subway–come out Exit 9 at the Dongdaemun subway station (NOT Dongdaemun Stadium!). As you come up the stairs, this is what you’ll see:

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Walk straight to find the doors that lead into this building. And this is where the chaos begins! Generally speaking, the floors are laid out like this:

B1: sewing notions (zippers, velcro, needles, etc.), thread (for hand sewing, machine sewing as well as sergers), yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks, embroidery, bedding, home decor fabric

1: lace, ribbon, home decor fabric, decorative patches, buttons

2: fabric, curtains, silk goods, hanbok fabric

3: fabric (B-dong is specifically known for cotton fabric, both woven and knit)

4: fabric

5: accessories, sewing notions, quilting fabric, quilting notions, ribbon, jewelry supplies, felt (sold as sheets as well as on rolls by the yard)

6: cafeteria and offices

7: offices

Shopping for Yarn

968815_552870511431649_777101494_nThe basement level of Dongdaemun Fabric Market is a mash-up of quilting and home decor fabric, sewing notions, knit/crochet notions and yarn. Lots and lots of yarn. Shopping for yarn in Korea can be both exhilarating as well as frustrating. At times, you’ll marvel at just how much variety is available, but sometimes, you’ll wonder how anyone can afford to knit anything!

The prices at Dongdaemun are hit or miss. Generally speaking, I’ve found that notions such as knitting needles and crochet hooks are on par with prices at Michael’s and AC Moore, but there is significantly more selection, and there are definitely brands you’ve probably never heard off. If you’re like me and like what you like–bamboo needles and Clover brand crochet hooks–then you’re probably better off ordering online from American retailers, but if you’re just getting started or don’t mind trying out new things, then you’ll find lots of great deals on things like knitting needles. Despite my reluctance to stray from my Clover Soft-Touch crochet hooks, I’ve found a great brand of crochet hooks called Tulip that make a size 6.5mm/O (not easy to find in non-plastic needles). Same goes for yarn winders and swifts. The pricing at Dongdaemun is very similar to what you’ll find in the U.S.

As for yarn, it all depends on what you like to work with. If you typically purchase yarn from places like AC Moore and Michael’s, and you especially love when certain brands are on sale, then the pricing at Dongdaemun may be more than what you’re used to. I love to work with Vanna’s Choice yarn. It’s soft, comes in a variety of bright, beautiful colors, and it’s machine-washable. All great for making kids’ hats. When it comes to acrylic yarn, I’ve found that the brands that are sold at Dongdaemun are not as soft as Vanna’s Choice or Knit Picks Brava yarn, so I tend to stock up on these when there are sales online. However, if I have to have a very specific color and can’t rely on sample colors on the computer (such as when I worked on my son’s crazy Optimus Prime hat!), I go to Dongdaemun so I can see the colors firsthand. Also, at Dongdaemun, it’s difficult to tell the yarn’s weight and yardage since these things are not clearly labeled.

However, if you love luxury yarns and typically shop at your LYS, then you’ll find an amazing selection of fabulous fibers at great prices. I’ve purchased some wonderful wool blends that are amazingly soft and are wonderful to work with. Alpaca and alpaca blends are also quite popular at Dongdaemun and pricing is much better than what I used to pay at my LYS.

Keep in mind that for all yarns, you will pay significantly less if you purchase in bulk–an entire package of yarn (sometimes, 4, 6, or 10 skeins at a time). Single skeins of yarn are available at most vendors, but you’ll pay around 25-30% more per skein.

Also, if you have a yarn winder and swift at home, consider purchasing hanks of yarn. They are far more economical! The hanks are GIGANTIC, and when I wind them, I usually have to split the hank into 4-5 skeins.

Shopping for Fabric

944370_552870311431669_873485537_nFabric shopping at Dongdaemun is an absolutely amazing experience. The prices are–hands down–much better than what you’d get at places like Joann’s (even with a 40% off coupon!) or even fabric.com. You’ll find every kind of fabric imaginable at Dongdaemun, and they’ll even carry American name-brand/designer fabrics for a fraction of what it costs State-side.

Fabric is sold by the yard (or ma, although if you say yards, everyone will know what you mean), and most vendors are very liberal with their cuts. There have been times when I’ve purchased 3 yards, come home and found that they’d actually given me close to 4 yards of fabric (win!). With so much competition (literally hundreds of fabric vendors under one roof), prices are set and you will not be able to haggle for better pricing. But really, at these prices, you don’t need to!

For me, when I go fabric shopping, I’ve found that it’s best to go with a list of things I need. With so much selection, it’s overwhelming to go without a plan of attack. You’ll either end up leaving with nothing or come home with a bunch of fabric that you had no idea you wanted. Either way, you end up feeling like Dongdaemun got the best of you!

Also, many vendors will have a stack of pre-cut fabric stacked in a box at the front of their stall. Often, these fabrics are available for VERY CHEAP. I’ve purchased wool suit fabric for 1,000KRW/yard and great stretch knit fabric (perfect for kids leggings) for 2,000KRW/yard.

There are a handful of vendors who do not want to sell small quantities of fabric. If you ever encounter this, simply move on. There are many, many others who will be happy to sell the same stuff to you.

Shopping for Crafting Supplies (ribbon, accessories, jewelry-making supplies)

5th floor. That is all.

Just kidding. But seriously, the 5th floor has seemingly endless rows of stalls for everything you could possibly need for making hair bows, headbands, jewelry, purses, embroidery, cell phone charms, dolls, and more.

Most of the vendors also make and sell their own products, so even if you’re not the crafty type, go to the 5th floor to shop for accessories. From super cute stuff for babies to elegant necklaces for mom, you’ll end up wanting to buy ALL. THE. THINGS.

Click here for a list of Dongdaemun vendors/stall numbers and what they sell