Henry rues the day I ever found the Joan Day vlogs on YouTube because a lot of what we did in Korea was influenced by her suggestive Seoul videos. Lots of pink cafes and trendy boutiques and, you know, Gentle Monster. I might never have known about GM if not for Joan Day vlogs! She also frequently vlogs from a place in Gangnam called Garosu-gil, which is full of high-end shops in the Sinsa neighborhood but the area is so pretty and fancy and also, the best Gentle Monster is there so I was like, “We are not leaving Korea before going to Garosu-gil” and Henry was silently cursing Joan and her constant promoting of all that is extra in Korea.
It’s also worth noting that the district of Gangnam is a hotbed of plastic surgery activity, and you will know you’re there before even leaving the subway stations which are lined with billboard and advertisements for plastic surgery centers. Henry wasn’t exactly thrilled about revisiting this area because even if he found a blank t-shirt to buy, it would cost 789% more than the ones he buys at home and he’d probably have to wade through a ball pit just to pull it off the rack.
(Seriously, there is a boutique in Seoul that has a mini ball pit-type installation going on in one of the rooms but I can’t think of the name of it now, and this is not to be confused with Urban Space, the bar that has a pool in the middle of it filled with white balls and unicorn innertubes.)
On the subway there, Chooch and I made friends with an old Korean man who insisted that Chooch sit down and then talked to us about having a friend who moved to Pittsburgh and it was one of those golden moments that made me love Korea even more. Our experience was that people were either very nice and helpful to us, or were just flat-out ambivalent. But we were never on the receiving end of any mean stares or rudeness which is also a concern when traveling to a foreign country and what so many people sadly experience here in my own dumb country. Get it together, America.
But first, Henry had to get us lost in Apgujeong (apparently the RICHEST neighborhood in Seoul so we felt like American hobos) while looking for K-Star Road. There was this awesome moment where Henry took all of his money out of his pocket and punched it into my hand and said, “GOOD LUCK FINDING YOUR WAY BACK TO THE HOTEL, ASSHOLES!!!” and stormed off down into the subway station. After a few seconds, Chooch said, “Um, I’m going to go and get him” because it didn’t take us long to realize that we were fucked to the nth degree if he didn’t come back, also who would we make fun of, lol.
So then he came back and we all had a grand chuckle and I was like, “Let’s just go to Gentle Monster!” and then Henry wasn’t laughing anymore.
Our time in Sinsa was smooth-sailing! We stopped at Latte King to get some beverages and allow Henry time to stare at maps on his phone while he had wifi and grow back some of the balls he lost after Chooch and I forced him to apologize for yelling at us. Family vacations, amirite? Korea was fucking perfect but it would have felt too artificial if there wasn’t some family-realness sprinkled up in there.
My drink was a hazelnut Jeju green tea latte. Chooch got some strawberry thing and Henry amazingly managed to order something without getting lost.
We were able to find the majestic Gentle Monster shortly after leaving
You guys. I know it’s weird to put a sunglasses store on a MUST SEE IN KOREA list, but each one of these locations was just so delightful—if you like bizarre art installations, that is. If you’re the type that just wants to walk into a plain store and grab what you need, then avoid Gentle Monster. Or most clothing shops. And also skincare stores.
Even Henry said he thought it was interesting! But then I asked him if he would recommend it to anyone and he frowned, so I guess not.
This is a mixture of pictures from my phone and Chooch’s phone. Chooch was super into it. THAT’S MY BOY.
Anyway, as soon as we walked into this particular flagship, we were greeted by the sounds of cawing crows.
I have no idea what these are supposed to be but I wish they were in my house.
Or in my front yard.
The nice thing about GM is that the staff doesn’t swoop in and pressure you. In fact, when I bought my pair in Busan, I had to get someone to help me. I liked that a lot because I tend to make rash decisions when a salesperson is following me around. Also, they don’t discourage you from take pictures and video.
Which is great because right as we were leaving, the girl at the door pointed to steps and said, “Please go in the basement for our closing.” At first I thought she said “clothing” but after seeing that were no clothes down there, I realized it was must have been like their “send-off” room which was extremely stimulating:
There was another GM right across the street! It was the Gentle Monster: Parallel store, which showcased their limited edition/special designs most of which were way out of my price-range and also super over-the-top.
Now I kind of wish I had bought that pair on the right. :/
I love that their building facades are so minimal, though.
We didn’t eat here but I thought it was super cool and had 1980’s arcade vibes. AND I WANT THAT NEON PIZZA.
We couldn’t walk by Mr. Holmes Bakehouse without stopping in for a famous cruffin. The original shop is in San Francisco, but for whatever reason, they opened a location in Seoul too. I actually just heard that this one closed so I’m glad that we got to try it while we were there!
Black sesame croissant and cookies and cream cruffin (not what I would have chosen but sometimes I throw Chooch a bone and let him choose ugh). Totally worth it.
There were two floors with lots of seating. Look at how beautiful it is in there! There were several other people there but they left shortly after we got there and if you ask Henry, it’s because Chooch and I chased them away with our loud cackles. Whatever, Hank.
I like how Chooch is trying to have serious-Instagram face while his feet don’t even touch the ground.
We also went to Dr. Jart which is also super strange and cool. It’s a Korean skincare line and the entire bottom floor was lit only by dangling strands of lights which are sound-activated.
The top floor was a lounge area where a Dr. Jart employee in a lab coat whipped us up a sample of the Peptidin energy drink they were promoting. I really liked it but Henry and Chooch were like “No thanks.”
We couldn’t spend too much time in Garosu-gil though (much to Henry’s delight) because we had other things we had to cram in, like stopping in Itaewon and going back to Insadong for last minute gift procuring, plus our Last Night Pizza & Noraebang Extravaganza. Sniff sniff.