Into the future at Dongdaemun Design Plaza

After leaving Hongdae, I headed for the futuristic Dongdaemun Design Plaza. It exemplifies Seoul — the most modern of cities I’d been to around the world. It looks like a spaceship and even has an alien-like figure staring at it.

There’s not much in the museum or adjoining buildings but the building itself is the star — both during the day and when it lights up at night.

Although I was too late to visit, I was pleasantly surprised to see there was an exhibition featuring British Pop Art and 1960s Swinging London.

On the way to Dongdaemun Design Plaza, I saw this sign:

It reminded me that South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao all have many convenient stores. For Japan — and the same probably applies to the other countries — these stores are especially used by office workers (“salarymen”) who, working long hours, can pop into a convenience store on their way home and buy a ready-made meal. Unlike convenience stores in, say, the UK, some of these small stores have microwave ovens for customers to warm up their purchases and even a few tables to sit and eat. They have become, in some parts of Japan, a hub for the community, providing other services too.

All the East Asian countries I visited have 7-ELEVEN stores. Japan and Taiwan also have Family Mart stores and Japan alone has Lawson stores.

Of these countries, only South Korea has the catchily named GS25 convenience stores. They’re everywhere. Their current slogan is anodyne and uninspiring: “Lifestyle Platform”. It could refer to a lot of things. The above photo that I saw today is of an older GS25 store, which hadn’t been rebranded. The slogan was “Friendly. Fresh. Fun”. I wondered how much they had paid for someone to come up with the current slogan.

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