Valentine's Day takes some getting used to for Westerners in Korea, as it is almost the reverse of how the holiday is celebrated in English-speaking countries. Koreans follow the Japanese tradition of women giving chocolate to men for the holiday, and men have to do absolutely nothing in return. Except…it can be more complicated than that, as Korea becomes increasingly connected to the outside world.
Valentine's Day falls on a Thursday this year ― not the best day to plan a romantic night out or attend a fun social event. But for those who want or are obligated to do something, there is still plenty to do. As the sunset is getting later, the temperature is rising and the air is clearing, it's a good opportunity to spend some time outside.
The startup Kickgoing has rolled out its electric kick scooter sharing service in three parts of Seoul: Gangnam, Jamsil and Hongdae. Users must download the smartphone app and provide credit card information to unlock the scooters. It is not expensive and the battery lasts for two hours. Service ends at 8 p.m., however. Trying out this new mode of transportation could be an ideal date night leading to surprise discoveries in some of the city's most popular areas. Kojects gives a suitable English-language explanation of the service.
Former train tracks
When the Gyeongui Line was relocated underground, a long linear park was built on its former land. Many know about the busy area in Yeonnam-dong and Donggyo-dong, but have you ever tried following it further inward to the city center? East of Sogang Station, passing Daeheung and Gongdeok stations, the park is less of a human zoo and there are many quaint little cafes, restaurants and bars backing onto the park where two people could have a nice intimate night.
Elevated urban park
One of the nicest things Seoullo 7017 has going for it is its convenient location next to Seoul Station. Now that the hype over its opening has died down, it's become well-used by local citizens, rather than a tourist destination. It offers a pleasant walk, especially around sunset.
Both sides of the former overpass offer numerous places to grab a bite or get a drink. To the west is the exclusive Very Street Kitchen, where reservation is highly recommended, as well as Manri199 Taproom. The west side has even more options. Recommended is Coyote Saloon, a California-style pizzeria inside Daewoo Jaedan Building, easily reached from Seoullo by a walkway. Across the street, Hotel Manu provides Seoulista, a surprisingly nice food court serving fried chicken and New York pizza, plus an impressive beer selection offering 20 domestic craft beers on tap.
|Seoullo 7017 / Korea Times photo by Jon Dunbar|
In the Hongdae area, there are Thursday night shows that mostly offer acoustic music. Jebi Dabang hosts Mongrim, a calm acoustic female duo. Salon Nomad has four bands that also lean toward acoustic: Yu Yu-ji, Kim Tae-hoon, Miru and Sloppy Seconds, not to be confused with the U.S. punk band. And Bbang also offers four more acts: Kim Hyun-bin Band, WK, Cyanahrim and Onamri Night.
For something livelier, The Henz Club offers "Rapflix Original," a full night of electronic music performed live and by DJs, including Yumdda, Bradystreet, Futuristic Swaver and Moldy.
Over in Itaewon, Soap Seoul presents Jess Connelly, an independent R&B artist from Manila, and alextbh, Malaysia's first queer pop star. They're supported by four local artists: Naufal, Ligrye, Fallens and L-Like.
|alextbh, Malaysia's first queer pop star, will perform Feb. 14 at Soap Seoul with Philippine R&B singer Jess Connelly.|
Couples yoga and singles party
I Art Seoul, an arts, culture and health conscious platform in Itaewon, offers Valentine's Yoga with Sierra from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., introducing poses designed for two people. It is 20,000 won for couples or 15,000 won for singles.
Then at the same venue, the Valentine's Day Singles Party starts at 9 p.m., inviting men and women, Koreans and foreigners, and members of the LGBT community. Singles only!
Want to stay home? That's okay too, whether alone or with a partner. Either cook for yourself or order in. Did you know Shuttle Delivery now offers delivery for Bonny's Pizza? So no need to wait an hour in line to see if it's really worth it. Visit shuttledelivery.co.kr to see their other partners.
Check out the latest Korean blockbuster drama production, "Kingdom," which introduces zombies to the 1392-1910 Joseon Kingdom. Or would you prefer something lighter? The coming-of-age animated comedy "Big Mouth" released a Valentine's Day special, which could be on Netflix. Or if you want something a little less raunchy look up "Hilda," a soulful Netflix original animated show based on a graphic novel about a fearless blue-haired girl and an assortment of unusual creatures surrounding her. Or is it going to be one of those kind of nights? Just throw on David Attenborough's "Planet Earth" and pretend to pay attention.