Yeouido (여의도) is Seoul’s main finance & investment banking district, home to National Assembly Building, Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) HQ, the iconic 63 Building as well as the famous Yeouido Hangang Park where the annual cherry blossom festival is held in Seoul. Despite the importance & central location of this island, I must admit I’ve hardly visited this area. In fact, based on memory, I think I have only been to Yeouido Park once briefly during my first visit to the country on a packaged tour 12 years ago. 😛
Anyway, this time round, Yeouido was an unplanned last minute inclusion to my itinerary on the 1st day too. Thanks to Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO) Singapore, just 1 week before I was supposed to depart for my holidays, I received an email notification from them that I got myself a KBS Music Bank live recording ticket for the 1 April 2016 live telecast. For the benefit of non K-pop fan readers, Music Bank (뮤직뱅크) is a South Korea television broadcast program which airs live every Friday at 5.00 pm Korea time, showcasing performances of K-pop artists with a weekly K-chart countdown.
Although it’s a great opportunity to watch K-pop artists perform up close, but alas, I’ve sort of lost touch with K-pop, except for the drama tracks from watching all the Korean dramas. >.< If only such an opportunity arose 5 years ago, I guess I’d have been much more excited haha. I was strongly advised not to waste the precious ticket by the few people who knew of this, but I panicked at the thought of having to make last minute changes to my 1st day plan in Korea + scramble for value for money accommodation! >.<
Anyhow, I made it somehow & arrived at the Yeouido KBS Hall around 3.30 pm & was shocked to see the huge crowd waiting outside the hall. There were many locals & foreign fans (with KTO sign) excitedly queuing in line to enter the hall. Tired from all the standing (due to almost 1 hour delay in admission) + noise I had to bear, I forgot to take photo while waiting & even joined the wrong queue. That almost resulted in me being barred from entering the hall, but fortunately the lady in charge of foreign visitors was kind enough to let me in with a ticket. The only photos I took at KBS were upon entering the complex & before entering the hall for the recording (photo or video taking during the live recording would cause me to be chased out if caught):
Due to serious lack of sleep as I arrived in Seoul on a red-eye flight early in the morning with some “saga” at the airport, I actually dozed off during the recording several times, even though fans were cheering & screaming loudly as their idols appeared. My apologies to K-pop fanatics but I really couldn’t help it, & it didn’t help that I knew none of them prior to the show. 😛 There were a few performances that I kind of enjoyed (in between my naps haha) though I don’t remember who the artists were or the songs they sang. An online search told me that I saw artists such as GOT7, BTOB, MAMAMOO etc, with GOT7’s Fly clinching the #1 title that evening. When the live recording ended around 6.40 pm, many fans in the hall were still reluctant to leave as they continued to cheer for GOT7 that won.
I left KBS & attempted to head towards Yeouido Hangang Park to catch some possible sight of cherry blossoms. Probably it was still early for flowers to bloom in Seoul, there weren’t many trees that had blossomed despite having 1,886 cherry trees around National Assembly Building. I guess if I had come here during the official Spring Flower Festival (영등포 여의도 봄꽃축제) from 4 to 10 April 2016, it’d be a beautiful place filled with lovely cherry blossoms.
One interesting thing I spotted somewhere along the river was the row of various “Memorial Tree” planted by fans of various popular K-pop groups such as Girls’ Generation in the collage you see above. The one you see above (if you have sharp eyes) was planted by Taiwanese fans of Girls’ Generation on 5 Aug 2013 to commemorate the 6th anniversary of their debut. Gosh… like that also can?!
My next destination was supposed to be the Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market as recommended by my friend but I somehow got lost at Seoul Marina. It was not without a lot of walking before I eventually boarded a bus to get to the night market at Yeouinaru Station (서울 밤도깨비 야시장, Seoul Subway Line 5, exit 2). Apparently, this night market is only open every Friday & Saturday from 6.00 to 11.00 pm from 1 April to 29 October 2016. That means I was lucky to visit it on its 1st night of opening! 🙂
According to its official website, besides the 30 food trucks selling a variety of food around the world at the Food Truck Street (먹거리), and 70 booths selling handicrafts & household goods at the Shopping Street (살거리), you will be entertained by the street performances at the Performance Street (볼거리) too. Not sure if I was blind or what, but I don’t remember seeing so many food trucks & booths as mentioned? Nonetheless, I guess the food trucks attracted the most number of visitors, including me as it was dinner time & I need to replenish my energy from all the walking hehe. The cherry trees here seemed to be blooming beautifully & I took several selfies with the beautiful trees too. 🙂
I was lazy to join in the long queues at most of the stalls so decided to only order the KRW1,000 (S$1.20) churros as the queue was relatively shorter. A sweet & scenic ending to my 1st day in Seoul as I enjoyed the fresh-from-the-oven churros under the big & beautiful cherry blossom tree! 😀