THIS FINANCIAL DISTRICT MIXES BUSINESS WITH A LITTLE PLEASURE
Written and photographed by James Kim
When discussing attractions, shopping, things to do, or places to hang out, Yeouido tends to be at the bottom of the list, if on the list at all. This is due to the fact that Yeouido serves as the main business and financial district of Seoul. The draw to Yeouido tends to be seasonal, with people flocking here in the spring to see the cherry blossoms or in the summer to stroll or bike through Yeouido Park. For the most part, however, the island has a reputation of being a bit of a ghost town after work hours and on the weekends. Things are starting to change, though, and with the 63 Building and the new addition of the trendy IFC Mall, Yeouido is a great destination in Seoul this winter season.
63 BUILDING (63 CITY) | 63빌딩 (63시티)
One of the most well-recognized landmarks along the Hangang River is the 63 Building in Yeouido. When it was built at the height of Korea’s economic boom in 1985, it stood as the tallest building in the world outside of North America, reaching over 240 m high. From the ground level, it is actually 60 stories high, with three floors underground.
There is more to the 63 Building than the fancy golden reflective glass panels that span the outer surface of the building. It is quite a sight to see, especially during the day when the sun brings out its golden glow, but the 63 Building has reasons to shine from the inside as well. Inside, three attractions are offered: 63 Sea World, 63 IMAX theater, and 63 Wax Museum, all located in the basement levels. Visitors have the option of choosing one of the attractions or purchasing a Big Three ticket (33,000 won) to see them all. If you have the whole afternoon free, these attractions are the perfect way to spend it.
A great option for young visitors, or just animal lovers in general, is 63 Sea World. It was Korea’s first aquarium and holds over 20,000 marine creatures such as tropical fish, stingrays, eels, tortoises, and penguins. Visitors to 63 Sea World can watch sea lion shows as well. The tanks are impressive, and there is even a section where you can see the marine life through the glass fl oor as you walk along.
The IMAX theater in the 63 Building is another great attraction. The showings run every 50 minutes, and they play documentaries that are meant for the IMAX experience. This winter season, the 63 IMAX is showing a visually stunning film on the Grand Canyon. For those who have not had a chance to take part in an IMAX experience, the 63 IMAX will not disappoint.
Rounding out the Big Three is the Wax Museum. Here you will be able to find wax replicas of many famous figures, as well as famous Korean celebrities that many international visitors might recognize. For a unique souvenir, try out the Wax-Your-Hand Experience, which allows you to make a wax replica of your hand that you can paint and take home with you.
Of course, while the basement level has a lot to offer, a trip to the 63 Building would not be complete without going up to the top, where one can find 63 SkyArt. After taking the glass elevator up to the 60th floor, visitors are taken through a beautiful art gallery that is host to both domestic and international pieces. The star of 63 SkyArt, however, is the view of Seoul, which can be seen from all sides. Because of its prime location in Yeouido, visitors have arguably the best view of both the Hangang River and Namsan Tower. SkyArt has a café and a souvenir shop as well. If you only have time to do one thing at the 63 Building, it would have to be a visit to the top.
Taking advantage of the spectacular views that the 63 Building offers are restaurants located on the 57th, 58th, and 59th floors. There are Korean and international restaurants to cater to everyone, whether you are there with family, friends, or a special someone.
(60 Yeouido-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul | 서울시 영등포구 여의도동 60)
Yeouinaru Station 여의나루역 (Line 5), Exit 4 or Saetgang Station 샛강역 (Line 9), Exit 3.[/box_light]
IFC MALL | IFC몰
The newest mall addition in Seoul is the IFC Mall, labeled as the first international- style mall in Korea. There are no department stores here, as one might be accustomed to in Korea. The whole mall is underground and can be accessed from street level or underground via Yeouido Station 여의도역 (Lines 5, 9).
From the outside, all that can be seen is the glass pavilion that provides natural lighting throughout the majority of the mall, particularly its two main atriums. Although the mall is completely indoors, it gives off a bit of an open-air feel as you browse around.
The mall is made up of three floors. The lowest level is mainly dining, and shoppers can find an impressive food court as well as establishments such as On The Border, Tomatillo, The Steak House, and M-Pub. This level is also home to a CGV,where visitors can take a break from shopping to enjoy the latest flicks.
The retail offerings at the IFC Mall are first class. While there aren’t any high- end stores, popular international brands like Zara, Gap, H&M, Lacoste, and Mango can be found here. Two stores that really stand out are Hollister and Banana Republic—the IFC Mall serves as home to both of their flagship stores. The Hollister store is the fi rst in Korea, and if you are familiar with the store, it is set up exactly as it is in the United States. Banana Republic is another brand with a loyal following, and many expats will be glad to have access to it here in Seoul.[quote]TIP: The giant screen in the IFC Mall’s atrium is actually interactive. Shoppers appear on-screen and can interact with
the video animation.[/quote] [box_light]
IFC MALL | IFC몰
(23 Yeouido-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul | 서울시 영등포구 여의도동 23)
Yeouinaru Station 여의나루역 (Line 5), Exit 1 or Yeouido Station 여의도역 (Lines 5, 9), Exits 3 or 4.
While Yeouido is still known as a district of business and finance, the 63 Building and the IFC Mall give us good reasons to onsider the island a new evening or weekend destination this winter.
WHERE TO EAT:
63 Buffet Pavilion: One of the largest buffets in Korea, with over 200 international dishes.
Restaurants on the 57–59th fl oors: With this view, you can’t go wrong.
IFC Food Court: Wide variety of choices, from gourmet burgers to Vietnamese cuisine.
WHERE TO DRINK:
M-Pub, IFC Mall: Great selection of local and international beer, on tap and bottled.
Try to catch some live music gigs.
Walking on the Cloud Bar: Enjoy a glass of wine while taking in Seoul’s nighttime skyline.