Seoul 2023: Day 6
After six days in Seoul I finally managed to get a good night's sleep and woke up at 9am. To celebrate this momentous occasion we headed to Egg Drop for some of their creamy scrambled eggs sandwiched between two pieces of toasted brioche. Something similar exists in Toronto at Egg Club, but it was just as delicious halfway around the world. I guarantee it will be an excellent start to any of your days in Seoul.
Just like yesterday, after caffeinating ourselves at Blue Bottle, we hopped on Line 2 and headed to our only destination of the day, Lotte World. The only thing we knew about Lotte World was that it's some sort of amusement part and is recommended by basically everyone as one of those things you have to do your first time in Seoul. I was not prepared for what was to come.
When you approach the entrance you are greeted by Lotte World's mascots, Lotty and Lorry, (I believe they are racoons?) who give off serious Micky and Minnie vibes. Upon entering you'll encounter Magic Kingdom-esque castles, merry-go-rounds comprised of what look like copyrighted characters, a boat tour through the land of fairies, a monorail in the shape of the mascot's head. So it is now obvious where we are right? A knock-off Disneyland. But then you notice a lot of peculiar things. A restaurant named "Rhine Land", their indoor roller coaster called "French Revolution", flags that appear to be from the Weimar Republic, Turkey, Great Britain, Spain, and France. A coming soon sign for the "PUBG Battlegrounds World Agent" experience. At this point I have absolutely no idea what Lotte World is, let alone what it is intending to be.
In the middle of playing a crane game that would reward us with a moomin plushie (yes apparently Finland is big in Lotte World, idk) a massive parade started that snaked through the entire main floor of the park. The vast majority of this parade was filled with people dressed up as what I swore were copyrighted characters. Everyone from Alice in Wonderland to Peter Pan to The Little Mermaid and Wizard of Oz. There was even a float that looked identical to the Cheshire cat from Disney's animated film. Accompanying this parade was a song that I can only describe as what you'd get if you asked someone to plagiarize songs from the Little Mermaid or Cinderella era of Disney just enough so you wouldn't get sued. I am actually genuinely curious how Disney hasn't sued this place. I must be fundamentally misunderstanding the copyright surrounding all of these iconic characters.
Also, seeing as how it was a Wednesday, I was not expecting to see hordes of schoolkids. It felt like the majority of the parkgoers were dressed in a school uniform. But as the day went on we noticed that all the uniforms were nearly identical. Most of these "kids" looked a bit too old for high school. The names on the crests were something odd like "Fantasy High" or "Magic Adventure". Then we spot the shop near the entrance of the park where you can rent school uniforms! Apparently in South Korea it is common to dress up like a high schooler when going to an amusement park. So we weren't actually seeing any real high schoolers, but 20 or 30 somethings all dressed up.
Reading over these last three paragraphs I feel that I am coming off far more negative than I intended. I actually loved Lotte World and thought it was a blast. But it was just such a surreal experience that what sticks out in my mind are all these idiosyncrasies.
You would think at this point that nothing about Lotte World could surprise us. But then we remembered included with our admission was access to a folk museum in the same building. It would be if like a natural history museum was connected to Six Flags. But whatever we paid for it, let's peek our head in for 30 minutes and move on. How good could a museum, inside a mall, next to an amusement park be? Well it turns out pretty god damn amazing is the answer to that question. So amazing in fact that Elsie and I probably enjoyed the museum more than Lotte World itself. But we are incredibly biased in this regard because the museum is home to an expansive miniature village depicting various eras of the Joseon dynasty. As massive fans of Little Canada in Toronto we were completely enamoured with all the work that went into making these beautiful models.
By the time we finished with the folk museum it was nearly 3:30pm and we were starving. We grabbed some pho near the entrance to Lotte World to recharge and decided it was time to check out the Lotte World Mall. After I was distracted by a Tamiya Plamodel Factory for probably longer than was reasonable, we stumbled upon the Lotte World Aquarium. If you read my day 5 recap you'll know what suckers Elsie and I are for aquariums so we just had to check it out. It definitely isn't as entertaining as the COEX Aquarium but the main tank is easily one of the largest I have ever seen, probably only eclipsed by Kaiyukan in Osaka, Japan. If you come to Lotte World you absolutely must make time for the aquarium.
By now the sun was starting to go down and since we were literally at the base of the Lotte World Tower, the ninth tallest freestanding structure in the world, it seemed like a perfect place to watch the sun set. It also provided an absolutely amazing view of the Seoul skyline, which was dominated by apartment complexes full of buildings that looked nearly identical. I'm not saying the massive panes of glass in Toronto are any better but the sheer uniformity really stood out. It almost looked like the start of a Mega-City from Judge Dredd or Cyberpunk 2077. Apparently an economic boom in the late 20th century caused all these complex to shoot up and Seoul has become a city of apartments since then.
It was nearly 8pm by the time we exited the Lotte World Tower and our bodies were finally feeling the strain. We got back on the subway, returned to the hotel, and then immediately headed back to the Kyochon for some more fried chicken.
All-in-all this may have been the best day of our vacation. If you ever plan on coming to Seoul make sure you block off an entire day and take subway to Jamsil station and you'll literally never need to go outside for at least eight hours.#Seoul2023