Things to do in Seoul for Animation Lovers

by - October 07, 2018

Seoul has some amazing hidden treasures, but many of these hidden treasures have been deliberate in an attempt to boost one thing or another. One such place, which is one of my favorites, is Cartoon Street. It is called in Korean, Zaemiro, meaning "street of fun".

The street was meant to bring back "Manhwa", the Korean word for cartoons, comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels. In Korea, the cartoon culture is different from other places and almost not recognizable. I grew up watching Hannah Barbera and Flintstones, but in Korea, it seems there was an alternative cartoon culture, that I may never connect to - but I truly appreciate it and can sense the nostalgia.

Supposedly, this road started in 2013, by Seoul's city government to promote the "imaginative industry" and boost tourism and the local economy.

The street connects Namsan Mountain and Myeong-dong. The entrance of the street begins as a tiny alley found between Exits 2 and 3 of Myeongdong Station, along subway line No. 4, at a fork in the road by the Pacific Hotel. From here, you see a really adorable picture, and then continue on to an unassuming alley.

Continue on and you see stairs!

Voila, you continue and then you will find an alley of artwork. This is basically, the "cartoon hill" which opens in front of the Seoul Animation Center. It has cartoon characters from 40 artists, including Lee Hyun-se, Huh Young-man, and Hwang Mi-na.

The street is also host to many events. In February 2014, individual cartoonists were invited every Saturday to Zaemirang to spend time with their fans and draw pictures while a "Cartoon Concert" of indie bands performed. The "Cartoon Street Festival" in November 2014 featured cartoon stories, a costume play photo tour of cartoon clubs, and Korean traditional dress and games.  At the end of the street, you will finally come out on the main road and see the Animation Center. Before that, you will come across a random Elvis store.

I tried to check what was happening there, but the door was locked. It was odd, because finding Elvis in Korea is so unusual, especially as I am exploring a particularly Korean pop culture. Anyways, from there, I see the Seoul Animation Center - Here is the image from outside!

Its an old but colorful building, and was established by the Seoul Metropolitan Government in 1999. The center is quite functional and runs an information desk, offers educational programs, holds events to support new talents and productions, and hosts diverse events and exhibitions. Once you go inside, there is a lot to do, from dress up to animation gallery to VR games. The gallery is upstairs and worth a look.
Inside, there is also a large AniCinema for diverse cultural events and films. Moreover, there is also Comic & animation education for children, and youth (you can try making stop-motion cartoons there) and there is a library and a movie room. Not to mention lots of photo-ops.

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