Oppa Gangnam Style



(Reading time: 4 minutes)

Good morning Seoul! We have sunny weather with a temperature around 22°C, heading into the city.

In the photo, we see Namsan Tower. We stayed below the hill, but that’s on the agenda for another day. Today, we aimed for Gangnam, a modern Seoul district with skyscrapers, luxury shopping streets, and famous nightclubs. The queen of local architecture and also the tallest building in all of South Korea is the 555m high Lotte World Tower.

You can shop, work, swim in the pool, stay temporarily in a luxury hotel, or permanently in even more luxurious apartments. For us, visiting the observation deck on the 118th floor was enough, preceded by quite an impressive performance… which I can’t reveal, that would be a spoiler 😊.

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Standard in places where it’s considered exciting and/or terrifying to look down from a height are glass floors. We encountered them in skyscrapers, excursion boats (so you can see the empty sand without fish), bridges, and even cable cars. They were here too.

The most popular statue in Gangnam is the golden hands modeled after the unforgettable choreography of the mega-hit by Korean musician Psy, “Gangnam Style.” A tribute to the song that disrupted the peaceful shores of English-speaking mainstream, understandable to everyone, with Korean “hatmatilkou” (nonsense). If you stand directly under the hands, the famous song starts playing, and you can shoot a completely kitschy video of yourself dancing to the rhythm. Psy himself doesn’t fancy the statue, but better late than never; the hands stand, shine in the sun, glow in different colors at night, and tourists love them.

The sculpture is located at the entrance to Starfield COEX Mall, where we found one of the most beautiful public libraries ever.

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Along the perimeter on the floor, there are tables and chairs where you can rest, admire the beauty around, and/or read a book. I assume that if interested parties want to borrow one of the higher shelves, the librarian won’t pull out a pickaxe and cats, but will find the same book somewhere in the stockroom.

No K-pop fan should miss K-Star Road in Gangnam.

The street is lined with life-size teddy bear figurines representing various K-pop groups, mostly from the second generation (Shinee, Super Junior, Infinite, Girls’ Generation, BTS). A survey of idol popularity (or cleaning crew consistency) could be based on the dirtiness and worn-out appearance of each mascot.

From the modern district, we headed to a somewhat more traditional place, the Buddhist temple Bongeunsa. It was founded in the 8th century, but it got its current name after reconstruction at the end of the 15th century. The main feature is the 23m high statue of Buddha Maitreya. This temple (like many others in South Korea) also offers the opportunity for “temple stay,” which is an experiential program allowing participants (for a fee, of course) to stay overnight in the temple, participate in some Buddhist rituals or exercises, try meditation, and learn a lot of information about the life and practice of monks straight from the source.

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We spent the whole day in Gangnam, so we also had dinner there. Stylishly, K-pop style.



  • Starfield COEX Mall today reminds me of the game Starfield by Bethesda (I still haven’t played it, but I mention it here because of the hype; it’s very possible that it has also reached people who don’t actively follow computer/video games)
  • In 2024, Gangnam Style has around 5 billion views on YouTube; for comparison, there are approximately 8 billion people on Earth.



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