It’s no doubt every international fan’s dream to visit the entertainment companies of their favourite artistes, take a proof-shot signifying “I’ve been here” and roam the area in hope to spot some K-Pop stars. This is totally understandable considering how many of us have been behind our laptops, getting emotional and being all jealous when we read up about the many fan accounts of our oppas and unnies being nice and sweet whenever they meet fans on the streets.
So today, (x)clusive is going to give you the ultimate guide to visiting the entertainment companies, celebrity hangouts and filming spots in Gangnam district, via the K-Star Road.
What is K-Star Road?
K-Star Road is a special project by the Gangnam-gu Office which involved the revamping of the streets in the Cheongdam-dong district to recreate them as streets of Hallyu, in an attempt to attract foreign tourists and international fans. At K-Star Road – which is ultimately an urban walking course/route – you get to know which stores in the vicinity are regularly visited by K-Pop artistes, which locations are filming hotspots and which restaurants celebrities like to frequent.
Broadly speaking, the K-Star Road links the posh shops and departmental stores of Sinsa-dong and Apgujeong-dong to the west with the headquarters of Korea’s major entertainment companies in Cheongdam-dong to the east. You can definitely stick to the main roads if you are worried about getting lost, but to really soak in the charm of this area, you have to explore both the side roads and alleys.
In addition, if star-gazing is your thing, then this is the place to be.
Gangnam Tourist Information Centre
Opening Hours: 1000h-2000h
Address: 161 Apgujeong-ro (Apgujeong Station, Exit 6)
If you are unsure of where to go among the many things you can do in the Gangnam area, do not hesitate to drop by here first and their friendly staff will assist you. In addition, you can browse through the various booklets and pamphlets provided in the centre, which will definitely come in handy while touring the area. The second floor is also pretty interesting to explore if you want to hide from the scorching hot sun outside.
For all you B2UTIES, there is this virtual photo-taking hologram machine where you can take pictures with BEAST members, which is a pretty interesting experience.
If you are a fan of Ji Chang Wook, then the mini exhibition featuring his drama costumes, scripts and photo stills are a must see. You can even take a photo with the live-size standees of him as well. However, do note that this zone is constantly being changed so be prepared for a surprise when you visit.
There are also various photo zones to satisfy the photo mania in many of you, and these includes the Running Man cast, EXO and the You Who Come From The Stars cast. Recreated MV scenes such as the street art buildings for Girls’ Generation ‘I Got A Boy’ is present for your photo pleasure as well. The best part of all is the fact that if you are game enough, there are actually accessories and costumes for you to put on for some dress-up fun!
Complimentary Gangnam Tour:
Having tried exploring the K-Star Road on my own and getting lost a few times before finding my intended destination, here’s my cheat guide for all you international fans! The answer is right here at Gangnam Tourist Information Centre. You must be wondering what I mean by that. As I tried to cross off as many as I could in the K-Star Road Map, the experience ain’t that fantastic considering how I missed the stores because I was either on the wrong street or just walked passed it without realizing it was THAT shop since the signboards weren’t that striking. These failed attempts can be quite mentally draining considering the immense hot weather in summer. As such, let me recommend you the easy way out, which is a guided tour provided by Gangnam Tourist Information Centre. Best of all, it’s complimentary! Sounds amazing right?
More Details of Gangnam Tour:
Meeting Place: Gangnam Tourist Information Centre
Time: 1100h, 1400h, 1600h
Language: English, Chinese/Mandarin, Japanese
Types of Tour: K-Pop Tour, Riverside Tour, K-Tradition Tour
As you can guess, I obviously took the K-Pop Tour, though there were two other choices such as Riverside Tour and K-Tradition Tour, which I would definitely try the next time. My guide was a super nice unnie who spared no efforts in bringing me around. If you have specific requests or certain artistes that you are especially interested in, you can also feel free to voice out and they’ll try their best to bring you to the spots that best suits your interests. Apparent they just started this complimentary Gangnam Tour and I was customer no. 1 – talk about being lucky!
K-Pop Tour via K-Star Road
The K-Star Road introduces shops frequented by Korean stars and places where you can experience Korean culture. On the K-Star Road Map, Gangnam-gu has been divided into four zones: A, B, C and D. There are about 73 spots on the K-Star Road Map currently, so as a personal challenge, you should definitely see how many you can cross off the list.
The highlight of this road is no doubt the 3m tall doll, named GangnamDol – coined from the word play of Gangnam-gu and K-Pop Idols. Along the 400m street stretching from the west wing of Galleria Department Store in Apgujeong-dong in Zone B to the old SM Entertainment office building, ten 1.5m art toys were created through a collaboration project by Ducobi. Each of the characters were designed based on the unique characteristics and charms of the K-Pop artistes, including TVXQ, SHINee, Super Junior, EXO, Girls’ Generation, CN Blue, 4Minute, FT Island, MISS A and 2PM. The unique designs and vivid colours of these art dolls will definitely catch your attention even from afar.
Here’s a glimpse of what to expect on the tour and spots that I manage to capture thanks to the super awesome and friendly guide!
Hansa Toy (Zone A: 15)
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 1030h-2230h
Address: 6 Apgujeong-ro 4-gil
Originated from Australia, this toy store has the largest number of plush toys and stuffed animals of 350 animals in over 3000 designs.
Fun Fact: Super Junior’s Ryeowook has the entire collection of Hansa Toy’s giraffe family. In addition, this is also Super Junior’s Sungmin’s favourite toy store.
Cofioca (Zone A: 14)
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 1000h-2230h
Address: 31 Seolleung-ro 161-gil
This 14 year old bubble tea takeout place is rumored to be a lucky place for newbies in the entertainment industry, where they believe they would make it big if they drink a bubble tea and paste their autographs on the wall in the shop. The higher their signature is, the more popular they will be.
Fun Fact: You can find the autograph of BEAST’s Yoon Doojoon pinned up at the top of the wall in the shop. He is said to be a firm believer of the bubble tea place being his lucky charm, thus leaving his footprints there when he just debut. He even wrote “Please paste it all the way at the top!” when he signed the paper. EXO’s Oh Sehun is also a frequent customer and his favorite drink is Chocolate Colada. Look at how successful these two are now.
Can you spot your favourite idols’ signatures here?
Luka 511 (Zone C: 4)
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 0900h-2300h
Address: 40 Dosan-daero 81-gil
This high-class Italian restaurant and its impressive European decoration is the filming spot for MBC’s drama ‘I Miss You’, where Han Jungwoo (acted by Park Yoochun) and Lee Sooyeon (acted by Yoon Eunhye) dined here.
Jiyugaoka (Zone C: 11)
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 1000h-2300h
Address: 38 Apgujeong-ro 79-gil
This dessert shop is known for its delicious cakes and cute Japanese-inspired interior design.
Fun Fact: 2PM’s Nichkhun and Taecyeon’s favourite dessert shop, where they spend some time after their training and practices sitting by the window and enjoy a slice of moist Chicago Chocolate Cake.
JYP Entertainment (Zone C, 2)
Address: 41 Apgujeong-ro 79-gil
No introduction is needed for JYP Entertainment, that is for sure. Home to popular groups such as 2PM, Wonder Girls, MISS A and GOT7, you could definitely catch hordes of loyal fans waiting at Dunkin’ Donuts (which is just opposite the entertainment company), waiting for their favourite idols to appear.
CUBE Entertainment (Zone C, 12)
Address: 8 Dosan-daero 89-gil
Home to BEAST, 4MINUTE, BTOB and G.Na, CUBE is definitely of the industry’s leading entertainment companies.
CUBE Café (Zone C, 13)
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 1000h-2250h
Address: 48 Apgujeong-ro 79-gil
Run by CUBE Entertainment, this café is located on the first storey of CUBE Studio (where the artistes practice studios are located at) and decorated with handprints and autographs of BEAST, 4MINUTE, BTOB and G.Na. Official merchandises are sold here as well. For more information with regards to CUBE Café, refer to HERE.
Fun Fact: Best-selling item on the menu is CUBE Ade and Honey Bread.
FNC Entertainment (Zone C, 7)
Address: 46 Dosan-daero 85-gil
Home to the talented musicians, CNBLUE, FTIsland, AOA and Juniel, the place where creative juices flow. When we walked passed the entertainment company, there were actually many fans waiting outside, while musical instruments were being loaded to the vehicle. Our guess was that perhaps an artiste was leaving for their schedule, but we didn’t stay long enough to witness who it was. Not fated perhaps?
SM Entertainment (Zone C, 1)
Address: 423 Apgujeong-ro
Home of the top Hallyu stars in the industry, the location stated here is actually the old SM Entertainment building, which is now currently under construction for their Global Artiste Training Centre. The new SM Entertainment building is actually near FNC, probably just a corner down the road from where FNC is located, so do not get confused.
Janbeer (Zone C, 14)
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 1800h-0730h
Address: 17 Dosan-daero 89-gil
Janbeer is famous for its delicious side dishes and their highly addictive fried chicken. Located near the entertainment companies, loads of artistes and production crew members would flock to this joint for some Chi-Maek (Chicken and Beer).
Fun Fact: Regulars of this chicken joint includes FT Island, BoA and KangTa. So should you want to try your luck in meeting these artistes, you know where to have dinner and supper now!
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 0700h-2300h
Address: 640-9 Sinsa-dong / 13 Apgujeong-ro 42-gil
Opened by Super Junior’s Lee Teuk mum, this is probably a heaven for ELFs since the interior of the café is filled with fan gifts for the members. A cosy café to visit and who knows, you may meet one of the members there if you are lucky.
G+ Star Zone
Address: 139 Cheongdam-dong (Apgujeong Rodeo Station B1, Exit 1, 2 and 7)
Located inside Apgujeong Rodeo Station, G+ Star Zone offers a photo zone, video stage and hand printing zone. Check out the cute 2PM live-size standees that you can pose with and the Jay Park photo area.
How I fared?
Considering the scorching hot sun and the sweltering heat, I honestly think I didn’t fare that bad, scoring 10 out of the 73 spots. Now that I am back in Singapore and realized that I only covered less than 15% of the total, it seems like I failed terribly. Anyway, I will definitely be back to cover the other spots during my next trip, so just you wait!
Things to Note
Since it’s a walking route, do remember to wear comfortable shoes. How my guide walked in high-heels for hours is beyond me. She even seemed comfortable as she scoured through the alleys on uneven roads.
Do remember to bring along a bottle of water as well to hydrate yourself, but if you are lazy, you can definitely drop by one of the shops for a bubble tea break or grab a take away coffee.
This article is brought to you by Korea Tourism Organization (Singapore). Stay tuned for more as (x)clusive brings you more exciting stuff with regards to our summer escapades in Korea earlier this month.
For more photos of K-Star Road, please head over to (x)clusive’s Facebook.