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[Well-curated] Lantern festival, PC room and animations galore

By Choi Si-young, Lee Si-jin, Lee Yoon-seo

Published : Dec. 22, 2023 - 09:01

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The 2023 Seoul Lantern Festival at Gwanghwamun Square (stolantern.com) The 2023 Seoul Lantern Festival at Gwanghwamun Square (stolantern.com)
The 2023 Seoul Lantern Festival at the Cheonggye Stream (stolantern.com) The 2023 Seoul Lantern Festival at the Cheonggye Stream (stolantern.com)

Seoul Lantern Festival

The annual Seoul Lantern Festival, held until Jan. 21, 2024, is made all the more memorable this year with the event spanning areas from Gwanghwamun Square to Seoul Plaza. The areas light up from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The lighting show, which first began in 2009, features installations and media facades, as well as on-site programs. The festival is taking place concurrently with the Gwanghwamun Flea Market, a pilot program that took off last year.

The market offers not only handmade goods but also street food. Credit cards are accepted. There is no admission fee. Visitors are encouraged to take the bus or subway, given that there are no parking spaces around. Another round of installations will be set up on Jan. 1.

This year’s festival runs under the theme of “White Night in Seoul.” Photo booths are set up for visitors to take photos in a giant white ball installation at Gwanghwamun Square.

Riot PC bang at Jongno-gu, central Seoul. (Riot Games) Riot PC bang at Jongno-gu, central Seoul. (Riot Games)

Riot PC bang for unique internet cafe experience

After the 2023 League of Legends (LoL) World Championship Finals finished on Nov. 19 with T1’s victory, the annual esports league season has come to an end as well.

This means LoL Park, the stadium for LoL Champions Korea in Jongno-gu, central Seoul, will be vacant until the start of a new season in January 2024. However, Riot PC bang, an iconic internet cafe located in the same building as the LoL Park is worth a visit this weekend.

A one-minute walk from Exit No. 1 at Jonggak Station on Subway Line No. 1, you can easily enter Gran Seoul Tower, the home of LoL Park.

Follow the sign and take the escalator.

You will instantly recognize that this place -- filled with flashing headsets, an array of keyboards and stunning computer screens -- is a paradise for computer game enthusiasts.

Unlike other Korean PC bang, Riot PC Bang has a visitor-friendly zone near the entrance, where people can try different keyboards, mouse and gaming headsets to see which suit them best before they take their seats.

Almost all computer games, ranging from League of Legends, soccer game FIFA Online, first-person shooter games Battleground and Valorant, role-playing game Black Desert and more, are available.

During gaming breaks, order snacks like french fries, ramyeon, kimchi fried rice, fruit ade, juice, coffee to fill your stomach before hitting the keyboard again.

It costs 1,000 won to play any game for 40 minutes. You need to pay 2,000 won and 3,000 won to stay in Riot PC bang for 80 minutes and two hours, respectively.

Don’t forget to tour the areas near LoL Park if you are a League of Legends fan.

Pay a visit to the merchandise shop, uniform exhibitions and photo zones of the LCK pro gamers.

The Aniplus store in Mapo-gu, Seoul (Lee Yoon-seo/The Korea Herald) The Aniplus store in Mapo-gu, Seoul (Lee Yoon-seo/The Korea Herald)

Animation, game fans' pilgrimage destination

If you are an ardent fan of animation and games, the Aniplus store in Mapo-gu, Seoul, is a must-visit.

Aniplus sells thousands of animation and game-related goods such as posters, stickers, badges, photo cards, figurines and everyday items such as key rings, blankets and water bottles that feature characters from popular Japanese and Korean animations, games and webtoon series.

The shop also operates two dessert cafes. The cafes periodically collaborate with widely beloved animation or game series to sell unique, character-related desserts, and provide a space for fans to write messages to the characters they love.

Currently, Aniplus in Mapo-gu is collaborating with popular the Japanese idol-making simulation game Ensemble Stars until Dec. 31.

In celebration of the characters' birthdays, the shop is selling exclusive birthday menus for each idol member born in December.

Also, for every dessert bought, customers get free bookmarks featuring illustrations of characters.

The cafe walls are another distinctive feature. Thousands of post-its either bearing hand-drawn illustrations of fans' favorite characters, or messages the fans have for their beloved characters, cover the walls from top to bottom.

The Aniplus store is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., while the cafes close at 9:30 p.m.