I know quite a few people who may have freaked out over this place if they got the chance to visit. Any K-pop fan has most likely heard of S.M. Entertainment/SMTOWN for they have raised many of the most successful K-pop artists including BoA, TVXQ, Super Junior, Girls’ Generation, SHINee and EXO. If you are a fan of any of these groups or of all of them, SMTOWN@coexartium is a big little heaven on earth. Step foot inside and there is no way you can avoid K-pop.
For those of you who aren’t aware of what K-pop is, does Gangnam style ring a bell? In my opinion, Gangnam style does not represent K-pop all that well although their music videos can be kind of crazy.
K-pop is short for Korean pop music. Artists have the look, can dance, sing, rap, act… they are artists in the complete sense of the word. Groups don’t get formed by a group of friends that start out in a basement. If you want to become an artist you have to audition for an agency and if you make it through you will have to go through years of training before you debut. In fact, it’s not even sure that you will ever debut and once you do you do not get to choose your own name or style or with which members or with how many members you will form the group. K-pop has started to grow popular amongst international fans. For many, K-pop would be the main reason to visit Korea.
There is no entry fee to get into this building, but it’s only purpose seems to be selling merchandise. The first floor is the welcome lobby. From there you can take escalators upstairs which are surrounded by television screens on which music videos play. On the second floor, you find a celebrity merchandise shop.
On the third floor is an SMTOWN studio. Visitors can have a real artist experience ranging from starring in a music video, having a photo shoot, recording a song, training like a K-pop star or get a makeover in their Hair & Beauty Studio. If you would like to do this, be aware that you have to reserve beforehand.
The fourth floor is home to the SMTOWN LIVErary Cafe where you can buy desserts like ice cream, cupcakes and macarons which are all SM styled. They are also very expensive. I believe one cupcake cost around 16.000 won (13 euros).
There is also a music lounge with a jukebox on which you can pick your 10 favorite songs and enjoy the music using a turntable or produce your own LP to take home.
The last floor has a photo booth, a hand printing & 3D printing zone, and a trick art photo zone. The floor is called SMTOWN Theatre because it is also home to a hologram theater. At the moment, “School OZ” is playing.
On the fourth floor, we were approached by a man who wanted to know if we often visited this place. He was also interested in which groups we like. All in all, it was quite nice to see this place. Although I haven’t seen that much of K-pop in Korea, this place definitely made up for it. It is interesting though, how one group appeared to be promoted more profoundly than the others. The place screamed EXO everywhere we went. Luckily for me, that is the group whose songs I actually like.