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[Well-curated] Stay cool inside with underground art space, trampolines and comics

By Park Yuna, Hwang Joo-young, Hwang Dong-hee

Published : July 21, 2023 - 09:01

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An installation view of “Hyewon Kwon: Planet Theater An installation view of “Hyewon Kwon: Planet Theater" at SongEun Art Space (Courtesy of Songeun Art and Cultural Foundation, Kwon Hye-won)

Explore art and architecture at Songeun Art Space

Songeun Art Space is located in a building designed by world-renowned Swiss architecture firm, Herzog & de Meuron, in Cheongdam-dong, an affluent neighborhood in southern Seoul. Opened in 2021, visiting the building that houses Songeun Art and Cultural Foundation offers a chance to check out the architects’ first-ever project in South Korea, as well as an exhibition of an emerging media artist Kwon Hye-won.

The geometric 11-story building, with another five floors below ground, is a monumental concrete mass in the form of a triangle. Inside, it features a sculptural spiral staircase, a fitting environment for contemporary art. The underground exhibition space offers a special experience to people as though they are in an abyss, leading them to focus on art more deeply.

The art space, which occupies four floors of the building, is showcasing the exhibition “Hyewon Kwon: Planet Theater,” featuring new works by the artist, who was the winner of the 19th Songeun Art Award in 2020.

An installation view of “Hyewon Kwon: Planet Theater An installation view of “Hyewon Kwon: Planet Theater" at Songeun Art Space (Courtesy of Songeun Art and Cultural Foundation, Kwon Hye-won)

The exhibition explores the concept of “new nature,” shedding light on the interplay between machines utilized for observing nature and their influence on our rapport with the environment. One may feel as though they are invited to the virtual research center “Planet Theater” dedicated to exploring speculative technology.

Near the Songeun Art Space are a variety of restaurants and brunch cafes that you can visit after or before the exhibition. The exhibition runs through July 29.

Destress at Vaunce Trampoline Park

Grown-ups and children alike bounce on trampolines under neon laser lights. (Hwang Joo-young/The Korea Herald) Grown-ups and children alike bounce on trampolines under neon laser lights. (Hwang Joo-young/The Korea Herald)

Feeling stressed? Maybe it's time to let loose at Vaunce Trampoline Park.

One of the best soft-play playgrounds, Vaunce presents various playful attractions such as trampolines and jungle gyms. It also features virtual reality game zones where you can play a space warrior fighting against extraterrestrial enemies.

In the trampoline zone, get jumping and rolling on the mats under neon laser lights. Shake off the stress during dance time with DJ performances. Just make sure you stretch your body enough beforehand to avoid hurting your back.

A safety assistant watches a boy approach on a zip line. (Hwang Joo-young/The Korea Herald) A safety assistant watches a boy approach on a zip line. (Hwang Joo-young/The Korea Herald)

Once you step inside the Sky Challenge zone, which consists of a two-story jungle gym, you will have to navigate through various obstacles that include climbing walls and crossing precarious bridges amid swinging objects. You can only reach the finish line by zip-lining over pits. Participants are required to wear safety gear including helmets and harnesses.

Visitors have to be taller than 100 centimeters to enter. To get through the Sky Challenge zone, one must be taller than 120 centimeters. Bring a pair of nonslip socks or get a pair at the entrance for 3,000 won.

The admission fee is 15,000 won for an hour and 23,000 won for two hours. For every 20 minutes over the time limit, 2,000 won will be charged. Adults accompanying their children and are only watching from the sidelines will be charged a flat fee of 5,000 won. Vaunce has 19 branches across Seoul, Busan, Gwangju, Daegu, Wonju, Jeju and more. Operating hours vary at each venue.

Visitors read manhwa at Comics Cafe. (Hwang Dong-hee/The Korea Herald) Visitors read manhwa at Comics Cafe. (Hwang Dong-hee/The Korea Herald)

Haven for comic lovers in Myeong-dong

Hidden in the bustling streets of Myeong-dong, Comics Cafe is a haven that caters to all manhwa, webtoon, anime and comic lovers.

Operated by the Seoul Animation Center, the venue offers an extensive collection of around 40,000 books, spanning from nostalgic '90s comics to the latest webtoons, inviting visitors to fully immerse themselves in their favorite worlds.

The shelves are stocked with a diverse array of titles, ranging from classic detective manga series like "Detective Conan" to recently revived sensations like "Slam Dunk." You can find popular Korean romance comics, webtoons, and graphic novels readily available, as well as dedicated sections for foreign-language materials. To locate a specific title, visitors can check the center's inventory through their official website.

Visitors read manhwa at Comics Cafe. (Hwang Dong-hee/The Korea Herald) Visitors read manhwa at Comics Cafe. (Hwang Dong-hee/The Korea Herald)

The center also features a small theater, viewing areas for video content and occasionally hosts curated exhibitions related to comics. As the space is devoted to the enjoyment of comics, using laptops or studying are not permitted, and consuming food and beverages is not allowed.

Operating hours for Comics Cafe are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and the center is closed on Mondays and other designated holidays. Each visitor is permitted to watch one video per day in the DVD room. Admission is entirely free.

On the upper floors of the building, “Ani Picnic” invites children to revel in attractions featuring popular animation characters like Pororo and Tayo. It offers various engaging activities such as digital drawing, stop-motion animation, motion-sensing flight games and VR experiences. It opens from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the last admission at 5 p.m. Tickets are 6,000 won for children under 12 years old, and 4,000 won for those above.