August 17, 2010

from ㄹ러스 to 아바타

(title explanation: From Alice to Avatar. Alice, and Avatar written in Hangeul.)

I’ve tried to embrace as much of Korea as I can, although I always find moments where I need to forget where I am. I’ve always used movies to do this. When I was in the Czech Republic last year I caught a midnight showing of Transformers 2, I then got lost on my back to my hostel, BUT that is another story. In Korea you have three basic choices for movies.

In a previous post I discussed how fast the internet was in this country. That is in essence the first, cheapest, and easiest option. The insane download speeds are incredibly helpful when you want to illegally procure entertainment.I've also done more than my fair share in Korea. Although sometimes watching a movie on a tiny 17” screen with tiny speakers isn’t the best option for experiencing a movie.

The Best choice when you want to experience a film is always the movie theatre. Korean’s treat their movie theatres much differently than they do in Canada. Seoul has one of the highest population densities in the world (people per square km). This means there is little in terms of sprawling megaplex cinemas, there is little room to put anything. They overcome this by putting theatres in strange places. For example, there are two movie theatres near my house. One is on the 9th floor of a shopping complex, and the other is underneath the Seoul World Cup Stadium.

The CGV (a company, like Cineplex) in the 2001 shopping outlet can be a pain in the ass to get to. The building has like 8 levels of underground parking, so by the time the elevator gets to the main floor it’s full. Although the view from the theatre is great, I’m not a huge fan of them high up in office buildings because of the long elevator wait times. I could take the stairs, but 9 floors? are you kidding me?

The CGV in World Cup Stadium is buried underneath the stadium. It is the largest theatre that I’ve seen in Seoul. It also houses two of Seoul’s 4-D screens. What is 4-D you might wonder? Well the movie is in 3-D, the chairs move along with it. If there is a breeze or smell, you get to feel and enjoy, if there is water, you will get wet. It is the future of cinema with a futuristic price tag of 18,000 Won. Although they intrigue me I have yet to see a movie in 4-D yet. I’ll let you know when I cross that bridge. For the most part I’m fine with the 9,000Won it costs to see a normal movie.

The last option is a ‘DVD bang’, or DVD room. I have only just explored the ‘DVD bang’ option; you could say they have a reputation in Korea. They are in essence movie stores where you watch the movie in the store. You pick your movie,pay (6,000Won per person), and the attendant behind the counter will start it for you. He then takes you to a small room where you watch the movie. The room is a fully functioning home theatre, surround sound, subwoofer, and 80 inch projector screens. I checked out Avatar on Saturday night, I was more than impressed. I loved it, it really felt like being back in my parents basement watching movies, with some differences. The room was smaller, the screen closer, and these rooms are regularly used for Koreans to have sex. That's right i said sex...

The reputation that DVD bangs have earned is a valid one. The small room is equipped with a couch or a bed. They have become quite infamous as sex rooms. Young Koreans, students especially, use the DVD bangs as places to get it on. Most young Koreans still live with their parents, these places are about as private as you can get, and they are cheap. You might think that I’m joking, but there are a ton of these rooms around the universities in Seoul. I know that University kids love to watch movies, but they love to fool around as well.

One thing that I love is that the movie posters in Korea are written in Hangeul. The posters are not the same English posters that you get in North America. It can also make checking out the movie listings hard. You have to learn the Hangeul spelling for the movies. I’ll give you a couple examples, the Korean writing is phonetic english.

아바타 – Avatar (Aa-va-tar)
인셉션 – Inception (In-sep-sion)
아이언 맨 2 – Iron Man 2 (Ii-o
셔터 아일랜드 – Shutter Island
이상한 애 너라의 ㄹ러스 – Alice in Wonderland (although this is actually Korean not phonetic english, translated it means Strange Country’s Alice, This is because the novel was popular well before the movie)

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