If K-Pop is a religion, then SMTown Coex Artium in Seoul, South Korea is a temple.
It is a place of reverence for K-Pop lovers and followers of SM Entertainment artists including SHINee, Super Junior, EXO, Seventeen, Girls’ Generation and Red Velvet. This is where you pray that you can afford to buy merch of your favorite artists.
Entrance is free so the place could still feed your soul with good music and eye-candies even without breaking the bank. There are plenty to do, see and take pictures of the six floor-building.
It is easy to go to SMTown through Seoul’s subway. Just find the green line, get off at the Samseong station, and get out at exit 5 or 6. Go straight until you find the black and white façade of the building.
It is an assault on the senses as soon as you step inside the door. There are a number of screens at the entrance showing music videos.
On the background you hear upbeat songs from different groups. Then there’s the scent of excitement left behind by fanboys and fangirls who came before you.
The walls are lined with photos of the different groups from different era. The SUM shop is the main feature of the second floor.
The SUM shop has the official merchandise of the group. There are also random items like jewelry and pens that the artists themselves sell through the shop. It is best to buy albums here as they are cheaper than other shops selling the same thing in places like Myeongdong. They also offer tax refund if you spend at least $30 in one receipt.
The third floor has the Museum, but it is undergoing renovation when Super visited.
The fourth floor is where the SUM Café can be found. Gashapon containing artists’ pins, baller IDs, key chains and tapes are sold here for $3. Here’s a quick tip: If you find something you like, do not hesitate and just drop the coins. SHINee items are currently hot items since fans from different parts of the world visit for Jonghyun’s memorial.
Food items with the branding of the artists are also found here. It’s not surprising to find an EXO Pepero, Girls’ Generation Chocolate and Super Junior Gourmet Popcorn on the shelves. At the café, cakes and drinks are decorated with the names of the artists, their songs, and the color of their fandom. The white tables and chairs are made interesting with the signatures of the idols.
The fifth floor has theater shows, gallery of posters, and photo boxes for souvenirs. You have to check all areas of the floor because there are surprising activities you can do that are hidden from plain sight. For example, there is an entire gallery dedicated to the hand mold of the idols near the fire exit. This is the same area where you can do a quick quiz and see if your match with your favorite idol.
Auditions for talents happen on the sixth floor. Hopefuls including foreigners and children lineup on Saturdays to perform in front of a panel of judges. This is also where the memorial for Jonghyun can be found until April 30. Fans leave their messages on sticky notes. Artworks of fans are also currently on exhibit on the same floor.
SMTown is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Visit if you’re a K-Pop believer or just want to be converted.