Hey ladies, have notice the men in your life have suddenly disappeared? It is still much too early for hibernation, and football season is only on the weekends, so why have men suddenly disappeared from public view. Video games… for the love of God.. video games is the answer. On September 17th, Rockstar finally released their long anticipated, next installment of the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Now in the USA/Canada, there are millions of places to go, but since Korea doesn’t have Game Stop or an Electronic Boutique, it can be a little trickier picking up the latest titles in the ROK. However, if you head down to the Electronic Market outside of Yongsan station, there is a good possibility you’ll find the title you are looking for, granted, probably not at the price you expecting.
Author’s Note: The Yongsan Electronic Market is closely connected with the I’Park Mall. I plan to do a separate review on the I’Park Mall (we found some great stuff there, with a couple of excellent restaurants).
How to get there: It doesn’t take a genius to get there, but at the same time it can be a little tricky. You need to go to Yongsan station, as the Electronic Market is near the station. Depart from exit 2 and head across the street. Now you are going to see a bunch of buildings connected, including Yongsan station right in the middle. Head to the building on your right, as you are facing the three buildings from across the street. Thankfully, there is lots of signage in English to help guide your way.
LP’s Description: The guidebook gives an interesting description on how to get to the market, insisting that you leave the station from Exit 3 and make a couple of rights and walk over the pedestrian overpass. They also recommend you to get prices online because the visual prices are lacking (Great advice LP!)
They lay of the land: Yongsan Electronic Market is a beast, and it can be pretty overwhelming. A lot of tourists come to YEM with the expectations that it is going to be equivalent to a Best Buy or a traditional American mall. It is more like flea market, with merchants setting up their merchandise in several designated areas. As you walk by, it’s very common for merchants to yell at you and ask if you want a new camera, computer, or various other electronic goodies. The mall central electronics area is basically from the 3rd floor up to the 9th floor, which houses the famous E-Sports stadium, where various gaming battles are settled between factions of Korean gamers.
3rd Floor: Mainly sells small electronic goodies such as cameras, and mp3 players and IPADs. There are other brand names such as Sony, Toshiba and of course, Samsung.
4th and 5th Floor: Mainly sells small household appliances such as rice cookers, grills and of course IPADs and other tablets. There are a selection of televisions and monitors as well. Of course, lots of Samsung computers.
7th Floor: Video game alley! Finally, we have reached our destination. Now, funny thing, they were really sketchy about me photographing the area, so I hope gentle reader, my description will be accurate enough. If there are some inaccuracies, please comment below.
It had been awhile since I’ve been to video game alley, and I noticed that they had shrunk a little bit. As most consoles will allow you to download the game directly from the Playstation Store or XBox Game Store, the days of video game discs are coming to an end. Now, since I have a piece of shit, first generation “fat boy” PS3, I need to get the games, as I don’t have the hard drive space.
There were three main shops for games. They had all titles including the new Madden 25, so if your a football fan, go and pick it up. It’s there! No NHL 2014 though (sorry JP and other fellow Canadians). However, there were lots of titles and all of them were in English. The guy who sold me GTA 5 spoke great English and showed me his wares. However, he must have not liked the look of me because he charged me 95000KRW for a 60 dollar game. A futile attempt at haggling and looking around for a cheaper price, and alas, I finally caved to consumerism and paid the price. Now, it does piss me off because others have bought the game for anywhere between 70000KRW to 85000KRW. The recommendation is to go to the Yongsan’s website and check the prices. However, when I ventured to the site, it was all in Korean. Here is my advice, bring someone who can speak and read Korean to make sure you don’t ripped off. Unfortunately, this is the way it is here sometimes.
The other two main “stores” didn’t have GTA 5, but they had an amazing selection of games including XBOX and Nintendo. Also, don’t panic, most of the games are in English. One of the concerns of foreigners, and justifiably so, is that the games will be in Korean. The majority of games I’ve purchased from video game alley are in English. They basically serve the entire US military base which is nearby. If you are unsure or hesitant, please just ask the guy at the counter, they speak great English and will understand your concerns. However, Nintendo does have a region-locking on their systems, which means you can’t play Korean games on foreign systems (Thanks for the info Wes!) If you want to avoid this problem, you need to mod your Nintendo system.
8th Floor: Cellphones! I saw a lot of people working out cellphone plans, and my wife has taken a damaged cellphone to the kiosk on the 8th floor and had it repaired for 40 bucks. A great deal The big players are here including Samsung, Apple, and LG.
9th Floor: We have finally reached the top. The other floors that I didn’t mention really are just repeats of the same products. I don’t want to get to redundant. Also, there is a huge wedding hall on the 6th floor. Yes, potential husbands, stopping to get the latest version of GTA before finally saying goodbye to their bachelor days before being shipped off to married land.
Finally, we get to the stadium. I’ve been here once before and the doors were open and you could check out the studio. Unfortunately on this day, there was a League of Legends show being taped and photography was denied. That said, I got some pictures of the outside of the stadium. Sorry gentle reader.
Check out the Visit Seoul website with photos of inside the stadium and information about attending one of the tournaments. It truly would be a Korean experience, one I hope to be a part of soon. One piece of advice, it appears you will need a Korea translator to help order tickets.
Who should go to Yongsan Electronic Market: Looking to check out the latest fads in electronics and need a video game fix check it out.
Who should avoid Yongsan Electronic Market: This place can be a little overwhelming, crowded and busy. I would try one of the chains first such as E-Mart or Home Plus, and see if you can get your electronic needs there first because it is more organized and comfortable. However, selection is lacking.
Alternatives: To be honest, I rarely go to the Electronic Market anymore. I find most of my gaming and electronic needs online at Craigslist Seoul. It is cheaper, plus you don’t have to deal with any language barriers since it is all in English. My advice: if you are going to be in Seoul of an extended period of time, check out Craigslist first, and then head to the market if you can’t find what you are looking for. Also, there is another shopping center called Techno Mart in Gwanggin-bu (Line 2 Gangbyeon station, exit 2) which also has a wide selection of electronic goodies.
Now your Yongsan moment of zen…
People covered in gold. Nice.