Banghwa-dong, the street which has become my home away from home for the past year and a half, is located on the border of southwestern Seoul. Most Seoulites would not find Banghwa the ideal living location since it is located very far from the central hot spots, but even in the short time I’ve lived here, there have been many changes that are making Banghwa look better and better. With express subway lines that can get me to places like Gangnam, Incheon airport, and Seoul station in about 30 minutes time, and scenic places like the Hangang river and Gaehwasan Mountain within walking distance, Banghwa has grown on me.
Most recently, last month, a new mall/supermarket/cinema/hotel opened up at Gimpo airport (2 subway stops from my house). The Lotte Mall at Gimpo is home to many Western clothing stores including H&M, Zara, French Connection, and more, as well as a variety of restaurants serving international cuisine and a Western favorite ~ T.G.I. Fridays. Prior to the opening of this mall I would have to travel 30 minutes to an hour to get to shopping centers such as Myeong-dong or the closest department store, Hyundai Department Store in Mok-dong. Now I simply hop on a subway for 5 minutes and after a 2 minute walk out of the subway gates I’m in the Lotte Mall. The mall has 5 floors total (I’ve only been to two so far). In Korea the price of the merchandise increases as you ascend to a different floor. So there is really no need for me to go past the second floor, but sometimes it’s nice to do some window shopping. The stores that I typically shop at like H&M and Uniqlo are conveniently located on the first floor.
This floor also contains a bookstore with a small foreign book section and many restaurants as well as a foreign food market with foreign spices, chocolates, and liquors. I just picked up a box of yummy Swiss Miss hot chocolate to get me through the winter.
I’m thankful that I don’t need to make exhausting 2 hour round trip shopping excursions to Myeong-dong anymore (although I still will for the sake of Forever 21), but now it will be much easier to spend money on a regular basis 😦 (Must save money!) And it will be much easier to eat Western food like salty pretzels and hamburgers. (Must diet!). But with some self-control I think this mall is a great perk for people living in my area. Stepping foot in the mall feels exactly like walking through a mall back home (except everyone is Asian). Not to mention there is also a supermarket and cinema, which I have yet to try but I will update with more details and pictures later. Here are some pictures of the mall.