It is easy to tell K-Pop fans apart from the locals on K-Star Road.
The fans walk slowly and they stop at every Gangnamdol (the word is a combination of “Gangnam” and “Idol”) they encounter to take pictures of or with. There are a total of 17 Gangnamdols in all. They are 4Minute, Super Junior, 2PM, FT Island, SHINee, Miss A, CNBlue, TVXQ!, Girls’ Generation, EXO, AOA, BTS, B1A4, Vixx, Infinite, Kara and Block B.
The K-Star Road is located at the affluent strip of Apgujeong Rodeo where high-end fashion brands can be found. The street’s name is inspired by Beverly Hill’s Rodeo Drive. The area easily attracts moneyed locals who drive shiny sports cars and supercars. It is a place to show off and spend.
But it is also a place to meet fangirls or fanboys from all over the world. Striking a conversation is as easy as asking, “who is your bias,” “which agency are you looking for” and “do you want me to take your picture?”
Super met a group of girls from Singapore this way. They were having their photos taken next to a BTS ’dol. We kept bumping into them no matter how long we stayed at one building or ’dol. By the time we met each other at the subway, we actually stood together for a few minutes to discuss and share our K-pop itinerary.
The K-Star Road is short and the walk is comfortable. We’ve done our exploration at the tail end of Seoul’s heat wave, but the maple trees that line the street provided comfortable shade. There are also benches that you could sit on if you want to take a break.
Fans make an effort to visit the place to find the location of the agencies of their favorite idols. The easiest to find is SM Entertainment because it is on the main road and it is right next to the Girl’s Generation ’dol. Dedicated fangirls can be found waiting for a glimpse of their idols at the back of the building where cars are parked. SM is behind the success of BoA, SHINee, Super Junior, EXO and Red Velvet.
The last ’dol is that of Block B. It also marks the point where you turn left to find the JYP Building. The agency is home to Twice and GOT 7. They also trained Rain before he moved to another company and established his own. The agency has already moved into another location but the GS 25 and Dunkin Donuts, where fans used to sit and wait, still stand. Dunkin used to have a rule that you must buy a snack every few minutes or so to stay inside the store.
Now the donut shop is empty but messages from the fans and even autographs of the artists still decorate their wall. There are no more fangirls or fancy cars parked on the driveway, but you can enter the building and write on the wall.
FNC Entertainment is nearby. It is home of the band CNBlue and the girl group AOA. We almost missed it if not for a couple of girls who just had lunch and turned out to be employees of the agency. They accompanied us until we reached the agency.
At Exit 7 of Apgujeong Rodeo station is the Gangnamdol Haus where you can find mini versions of the ’dols. Each mini ’dol is worth around P1,500 each. If you do not have any intention of buying, visit the store for the guides and directions on finding the dolls and the agencies.
How to get there: Take the Bundang Line or yellow line to the Apgujeong Rodeo Station. Take Exit 2 to get out.