After coming back from Gamcheon Culture Village, we checked into our hotel for the night, Le Ide:A, whatever that means. We liked it better than our hotel in Seoul!
This is what the room looked like after a minute of us infiltrating it. Chooch was thrilled because there was a computer in our room and he immediately started screaming about FORTNITE and I can’t tell you how quickly I start shutting down as soon as I hear that word start wisping past his dumb lips. The computer was in Korean though so when we were leaving for an evening out on the town (lol), Chooch asked the girl at the front desk how to get it in English and she practically chortled and said, “Oh no, Korean only” and it was Chooch’s first Alamo Basement moment in life, I think. It was awesome to experience as a bystander!
ISN’T THE HALLWAY COOL?!
We headed out to Gwangbok-dong, Busan’s culture & fashion street, which is also considered to be Busan’s answer to Seoul’s Myeongdong area. It was a beautiful street bu there was only one thing I had my eyes open for: Gentle Monster. If you follow me on Instagram, or have the misfortune of having to talk to me on a daily basis, you have probably heard or seen me mention Gentle Monster a hundred times by now. It’s a Korean sunglasses brand and I am completely head-over-heels obsessed with it because its concepts are 100% my style. There are stores all over Korea (as well as China and the US even has two) and I wanted to try to go to as many as possible because it was something I was super excited about. I think of each store as sort of a contemporary art museum that just happens to be selling glasses on the side. Henry was “……….” about this because he has seen so many vlogs on YouTube since I am always excitedly stalking Korean YouTube-celebs. Have you met Henry? He’s preeeeetttttty fucking blue-collared and would rather just try and win a pair of fluorescent-framed plastic sunglasses out of a claw machine from 1990. But he knew that this was something I was serious about so he quietly went along for the ride and didn’t even give me the Dad Look when I picked out the pair that I wanted. That’s true love, guys.
So right away, we walked in and saw this thing pumping out red stuff. What does it have to do with sunglasses, you ask? I don’t know. Call Gentle Monster and ask them. I’M NOT A REPRESENTATIVE!
Ooh, I wonder if I could be their representative though? MAYBE THEY WILL OPEN A PITTSBURGH FLAGSHIP.
Lol. The Gentle Monster Yinzer concept.
Gentle Monster is famous for their ridiculous sunglasses (see above, modeled by a ridiculous boy) but they do have “normal” designs too that can be worn on actual city streets outside of a sci-fi Con.
At first I thought that maybe they were in the middle of changing the concept because there were like, wires and other construction-like sundry strewn about but then I realized that no, this probably WAS the new concept. Gentle Monster, you’re so weird. Let’s get married.
I ended up getting this pair after going back and forth for nearly an hour and I think Henry was seriously reconsidering his choices in life that landed him in a Gentle Monster in Busan, Korea.
“Just please choose a pair so we can leave.”
Meanwhile Chooch had imprinted on some round yellow pair that were kind of Lennon-esque but bigger, and we were like, “No, a 12-year-old boy does not need a $260 pair of sunglasses I don’t give a shit how aesthetic they are” because he just going on and on about how aesthetically pleasing they were (thanks, Instagram culture) and for some reason, he actually got REALLY MAD about this and was a fairly huge dick for the next hour, to the point where I was like, “I did this. I created this (non-gentle) monster.” Because boy, this was totally how I was when I was a kid – materialistic and a spoiled brat. (I’m still a spoiled brat and just materialistic in different ways, according to Henry.) Anyway, it turned out Chooch was just hungry, lol. I mean, he did want those sunglasses for whatever reason, but his hunger level was definitely ramping up the way his displeasure was being served to us.
After walking around with his miserable ass for awhile, we found a restaurant specializing in Busan bibambap and tofu dishes so we went inside before Chooch started murdering people with his words.
Starting with us.
Mmm, banchan. Busan bibambap was definitely different than any other bibambap I’ve had before. First of all, there was no gochujang! And every table had a basket of eggs on it so we got to crack our own eggs onto our bibambap and I was stupidly happy about this. After we ate, Chooch was back to being the pleasant version of himself, so we went and had bingsu for dessert!
In Korea, many of the shops and restaurants have sliding glass doors which you open by pressing on a box or strip in the middle of the door, but it only stays open for so long. So when we went to get bingsu, Chooch and I were able to slide through together but when Henry tried, the door shut on him. We started losing our shit over this because every single thing that happened to Henry in Korea was hysterical to us, but the ahjumma who was working behind the counter cried out and ran over to help Henry. That made us laugh even harder, someone actually caring about him! Oh holy shit, it was so funny. I GUESS YOU HAD TO BE THERE!
Anyway, I got the original patbingsu and it was served to me in all of its traditional Korean glory. Thank you, Korea, for inventing bingsu.
That’s not a scoop of chocolate ice cream on top of my bingsu, that is a shiny globe of sweet fucking red bean (pat) and it melted into absolute perfection on the palate. Henry and I ordered it to share but I could have easily downed without any help. Chooch got the “cereal” version which was very similar to mine but without the pat. And the nice lady even gave us a cute bowl of tiny chocolate chip cookies for service!
We were stuffed and happy after this, and my favorite part was as we were leaving. Chooch and I had already left, but Henry was still at the counter paying. As he turned to leave, the ahjumma excitedly told him to wait and ran over to open the door for him! HAHAHA, HENRY YOU SUCK! She thought he was too incompetent to open the door!
Or, you know, she was just really nice and didn’t want him to get nearly-vivisected by the door again.
Now that Chooch was fed and sugared, he was so lively! He did a total 180, attitude-wise, and was so animated and hilarious. Still obsessing over foot massages, he kept bowing to every foot massage sign he saw and I was almost peeing my pants. Henry was just like, “It’s not that funny” but everything was funny to me and Chooch in Korea!
We swung by the Lotte department store on the way to the subway station (you can access it underground from the subway station, even!) and Chooch got to have his Line Friends fix.
I was staunch in my desire to see the ocean at night, and Henry kept arguing with me because it was already after 9 and the closest beach was like 20 subway stops away, and blah blah blah, but finally he was like OK WE WILL GO so we took the subway all the way to the end, to Gwangalli Beach, which was cool but you know, it was a March night, pretty chilly and super windy. Not much was going on there. We started walking out onto the beach and then when I noticed the huge mountains jutting out from the left, I got super panicked because I’m weird about nature-things (DON’T TALK TO ME ABOUT ALASKA, IT IS THE HOME TO A BEVY OF NATURAL NIGHTMARES!) so we turned around and got back on the subway, which Henry was happy about because it was getting pretty late and the subway was going to stop running soon.
“I bet this place is rockin’ in the summer,” Henry said about the entire area, and Chooch and I latched onto this SO HARD and mimicked him saying it for the rest of the trip. If we’re being honest, Chooch actually just referenced it again today.
AGAIN, MAYBE YOU HAD TO BE THERE. LEAVE ME ALONE.
The subway ride back was long and excruciating because we were all falling asleep and someone had to stay awake to make sure we didn’t miss our stop. Guess who that someone was?
This was the view from our hotel, lol. The KTX tracks and a colorful bridge!
We went to bed, exhausted and delirious from laughing so much. Maybe it was something in the air (yellow dust?) but it felt like Korea as a whole was just one giant drug being pumped straight to my brain. I think back on it, now that we’ve been home for a month (SAD FACE), and I just get so giddy at the memories! And that is better than any souvenir I brought home, because you can’t put a price on memories as golden as these.