9 reasons I love going to the cinema in Korea.

When people back home hear that I’ve been to the cinema here, they are shocked. I’m not sure if it’s because we have cinemas or if it’s because I saw a movie that they also saw but they are shocked.  Going to the cinema here is one of my favourite things to do and here’s why;

1. English Movies; That’s right folks, we have English movies here. If you can see it in Ireland, you can see it here.

2. Great choice of cinemas; Lotte, CGV and Megabox are three of the big cinema names here so if you can’t find your movie in one, you can just go to the other. And they all generally have their cinemas in the same area so it’s fantastically convenient.

3. The price; Back in the day when I used to live in Ireland, a trip to the cinema would cost me about 7 euros for a ticket. That’s about 10,000won. For a regular ticket here, it costs 9,000won. Of course it’s a little more pricey for the IMAX, 12,000won and if you’re going to splash out of 3D it’s about 18,000won. Either way, it’s much cheaper that what you pay back home.

4. Reserving tickets; If you want to watch a movie at a peak time but really want to get good seats in advance you have 2 options. 1. Go the the website of the cinema and try booking it there. Or 2. Go to cineinkorea.com and book it with them. I did this once and honestly it was so easy. It was all in English and they sent me a message with a picture of the seats to make sure they were ok. Amazing.

5. The ticket machines; If you want to buy your tickets at the cinema, you can just rock up and get them from the ticket machines. The machines are in Korean so by just looking foreign and helpless you are guaranteed that a helper will come along and do it all for you. But if you get your tickets from the counter, they had you vouchers with your tickets. Making it look like you’re getting great value for your money.

6. The popcorn; Possibly the best part of going to the cinema here is the popcorn. So many delicious flavours to choose from, onion, cheese, garlic, caramel, regular, the random flavours at the posh CGV’s. And if you can’t decided, you can get a half and half so you can enjoy 2 flavours. Amazing.

7. The movie theater; Always super clean and comfortable. My favourite has got to be the IMAX. I just saw a movie there today and I literally thought I was part of the hunger games tributes, “I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE! I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE! PICK ME! PICK ME!You get the idea.

8. The upper hand; Usually the foreigners are the last people to know what’s going on. This changes the second you go to an English movie here. They do have Korean subtitles but jokes just don’t translate well. So, the foreigners are the only ones laughing causing the Koreans to laugh at us laughing and the whole thing is pretty great.

9. The staff; At the end of the movie, when you walk out, there are staff there bowing at you and telling you to come again. Sometimes these staff even give you vouchers. It’s like the perfect ending to the cinema experience. It’s the small things in life.

The Korean Cinematic Experience

One of the many things I enjoy doing with my friends is going to the cinema. It’s a great way to pass a rainy day, Sunday or any day that requires filling.

In Ireland, the cinema experience is not actually all that great. First, there’s the trouble of finding a cinema, especially if you live in the countryside like myself. Then, you have to gather up  a crew. This in itself is also not easy. It requires the initial contact, confirmation of interest, general debate about movie choice and time (no 021330 in Ireland!!!!!) Then a meeting spot must be arranged, a safe place for the cars. Whose car will be taken and the arranging goes on and on. Finally, you get to the cinema, pay an extortionate amount for the ticket, even more for a few snack before finally getting yo watch the actual movie.

Korea is not at all like that. Movie theaters are EVERYWHERE. There are even 2 or possibly 3 in Paju (shock shock ). There are always  the most recent English movies playing.
Arranging a movie, however, does require some planning, although not to the Irish standard.  First a simple call to 02 1330 to confirm times and locations, then a simple facebook status to inform of intention of such outing. Then it’s simply a case of sitting back and drinking your tea while you wait for equally enthused cinema goers to respond.

After that its all in your jihachul app. Check your subway departure that leaves you enough time to get you to the theater with pleasure to buy your ticket and purchase the snacks.

Buying a ticket at the machine is not always an option, even for a.Korean reader as the screen is timed so most of the time a straight line for the counter is more successful. Then you must content with the look of shock and
fear on the persons face when they realise that they are the ones who must deal with the foreigners. But usually its a simple “movie title” “time” “number of tickets” is the only conversation required. Tickets are super cheap (approx 4 euro) and then its off to the snack counter.

One of the reasons I love the cinema is.because it allows you to eat and drink things in quantities that you would never otherwise eat and drink them. Like cheese popcorn. Where else would I be allowed eat a giant container of cheese popcorn….by myself???? Nowhere, is the answer. The same goes for Cola. Delicious. The best part is that you can sneak in some candy and eat that after you’ve devoured the popcorn. Its simply heaven.

The best part of the Korean cinema experience, however is the actual movie. Usually, the only foreigners are my friends and I. Everyone else is Korean. For English movies, there are Korean subtitles. But we all know that humour does not translate well. So usually its the foreigners laughing hysterically while the entire rest of the cinema is completely quiet, muttering about the loud crazy foreigners. Koreans also like to eat in silence so if we’re not laughing we’re eating loudly, much to their annoyance. Then, there are the references to past movies that we get that they totally don’t and you can almost hear that reference flying completely over their heads. 

Then at the very end,after the movie has finished, everyone takes out their own trash. This concept was, at first alien to me but in my effort to become Korean I too have taken to doing it.

So that’s it, my Korean cinematic experience. Full of overeating and over laughing but a whole world less traumatic than any cinematic experience I could have in Ireland.