In early May, my family and I returned to Seoul, South Korea, for a week-long visit. This trip was actually a revisit for us, although the original plan to attend a concert got canceled. Undeterred, we reshaped our itinerary and focused on different activities. Jacob, my significant other, was particularly excited about exploring the game arcades in Seoul, meeting up with a friend, and indulging in some delicious street food adventures in Myeongdong.
Despite the early summer forecast, we were surprised by the cool weather in Seoul, reminiscent of early spring, especially during the evenings. This contrasted with the scorching hot and humid weather we had been experiencing in the Philippines for the past two months.
Upon our arrival, we checked into Step Inn Myeondong 1, a Bed and Breakfast (B&B) that left a lasting impression. While the rooms were on the smaller side, as is typical for a B&B, they were well-maintained and featured prominently displayed house rules in the common dining area. Although the walls were not soundproof, the noise levels were minimal, with the loudest sounds being the closing of doors or the occasional sound of luggage being moved.
The only inconvenience we encountered was with the bathroom setup. The sink and shower areas shared the same space, increasing the likelihood of water splashing onto the bathroom door. Unfortunately, our bathroom door was not adequately sealed, resulting in some water leaking into our main room. To address this issue, we improvised by placing a towel along the edge of the door to prevent further leakage.
Despite the minor hiccup, which is understandable as doors can be flimsy — it is still a great place to stay, as evidenced by it being fully booked.
Video games & Arcades
VG Alley (or Video Game Alley) [Map]
After a well-deserved restful night’s sleep (we hurriedly caught the last train the previous evening), our first destination on the itinerary was VG Alley, also known as Video Game Alley, located near Yongsan-gu Station.
Navigating our way to the location proved to be a bit challenging, as there were two entrances. One led to a collection of phone stores, while the other served as the main entrance to VG Alley. Once inside, we were greeted by a captivating sight: an abundance of game cartridges, limited-edition boxes, and an array of game consoles, including a multitude of Pandora’s Boxes.
While Jacob was engrossed in conquering the latest Pandora’s Box (I believe it was Pandora’s Box 9), I took the opportunity to explore the area. I stumbled upon several game vendors offering a diverse selection of both vintage and modern video games. Among their offerings were rare items and limited-edition gems for consoles such as the Sega Master System, Super Famicom, Sega Genesis, and more.
During my stay, I managed to get my hands on two long-awaited PSP games: DJ Max – Black Square and Clazziquai, which I had been searching for years. Each game was priced at ₩10000 (₱441/$8). I recently shared my excitement on Instagram, showcasing the games along with their manuals and promotional flyers from Platinum Crew.
In addition to the gaming finds, I also came across a delightful selection of anime merchandise. If you’re a fan of Nendoroids, Figmas, Cu-Poche/Obitsu face splits, or clothing for these figures, you’ll be pleased to know that there are two spacious kiosks/stores dedicated to such items.
콤콤오락실 (Comcom Recreation Room) [Map]
This hidden gem, known as 콤콤오락실 (Comcom Recreation Room), is perhaps the finest old-school game center we stumbled upon in Seoul. Located near Yongsan The Prime [용산더프라임] in the Namyeong-dong area, it’s easily accessible by getting off at Namyeong station.
From the outside, the place may seem unassuming—I even initially mistook it for a simple clothing shop. However, as soon as we stepped inside, we were pleasantly surprised by its layout. It closely resembled the beloved game arcades we know and love from Japan, adding an extra dose of nostalgia to our experience.
What truly impressed us was the excellent condition of the game cabinets on display. While most of the titles were from Capcom, it was evident that the owner had handpicked the games. Among the notable gems, Jacob excitedly pointed out the presence of the Cadillacs & Dinosaurs arcade game.
As I explored the arcade, I noticed a couple of photos featuring the establishment, possibly from a K-drama, as well as some vintage-looking posters. These posters, although new, were painted with wood lacquer, thinner, or enamel paint, giving them a charming retro vibe.
Myeongdong Street-food [Map]
During the majority of our stay, our main focus was indulging in the delightful street food offerings of Myeongdong. The atmosphere was livelier than usual due to Seoul Welcome Week 2019.
As we wandered through the bustling streets of Myeongdong, we noticed that the street food prices ranged from ₩2000 to ₩5000. Although this may seem a bit expensive compared to restaurant prices for dishes like kimbap or bibimbap, we couldn’t resist trying some of the unique street food items that couldn’t be found elsewhere.
One of the highlights was the photo of mouthwatering sausages on a stick. While they may appear ordinary, their flavors varied from regular to cheese and jalapeño-infused, making them a delectable treat.
And with that, we conclude our nearly-weeklong adventure in Seoul. Although it was disappointing that the planned concert was canceled this year, we made the most of our time by simply enjoying the laid-back atmosphere and savoring the diverse street food offerings as an alternative.