Gangnam Station

by Martin

YES!  Gangnam is a place… a magical place in the heart of southern Seoul.  Over the past several years, the Korea fever that started in Japan has been sweeping over the world but never had it hit such a wide audience as it did last year in 2012 with the Psy’s hit song, “Gangnam Style”.

Some people are surprised to find out that Gangnam is actually a place, and some don’t even realize that Psy’s saying “Gangnam style,” not “Condom Style”.  So, let me give you a brief overview of Gangnam, which, if you have any plans to go to Seoul to meet some ladies, is one of the three areas you must hit–the other two being Itaewon, the foreigner haunt, and Hongdae, the student haunt.

So what’s this “Gangnam” thing, anyways?

While Hongdae is built up because of several nearby universities and Itaewon is overflowing with life because of it’s proximity to a US Army base, Gangnam is a major transportation hub with buses coming in from all over the surrounding province of Gyeonggi-Do.  It’s known as a high-class area because it’s in the center of the southern part of the Seoul, the part divided from the rest of Seoul by the Han river.  This area is the new post war part of the city and, as such, has taken on a modern metropolis-like look, with high-rises, steel and glass sky scrapers, and, of course, the high end malls where top brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, etc., stand shoulder to shoulder ready to bring you to new levels of sheik.  And if that’s not enough, inside those massive towers are wall-to-wall plastic surgeons who, in addition to the typical western boob job, face lift, botox, or tummy tuck will provide a range of different eye surgeries, add curvature to your forehead, and even shave your jaw bone down to make your face smaller!

There is the Gangnam that comprises the district lines and then there is Gangnam that’s commonly referred to which actually stretches across those lines.  The main drag is located between Gangnam station and Shinnonhyeon station and, as a transportation hub, is lined with coffee shops.

Beans and babes…

Korea has by far the most developed coffee shop culture in Asia, and this main strip in Gangnam literally explodes with them. The strip is about 200 meters long and is flanked by parallel streets on each side.  In this small area, I can think of at least 2 Starbucks, 5 Coffee Bean and Tea Leafs, 2 Kona Beans, 2 Paris Baguettes, 2 Angel-in-Us, 2 Cafe Benes, and 7 more coffee shops with only a single branch.  Most of these coffee shops are multi-story as well, and this makes Gangnam…

A cornucopia of young single Korean women!  There is literally not enough time to talk to every woman that will make your eyes pop out of your head.

Unlike in the west, where most women move out and live alone as soon as they possibly can, the vast majority of Koreans (and all other Asians too), live with their parents until marriage.  The few who don’t, tend to be from outside of Seoul and often live with their brother or sister.  That means that they need somewhere to go to meet and spend time with their friends.  It just so happens that they’d much rather kill time at a cafe in Gangnam than be almost anywhere else.

The perfect spot to watch the chaos…

At night, back streets are lined with bar after bar after bar, and Koreans can drink.  In fact, Korea is the 11th highest per capita consumer of alcohol in the world, between Croatia and Portugal, and the only Asian country in the top 25.  Gangnam is also home to the best high end clubs in the city, where K-pop stars and other celebrities reportedly go to party.  In back, just behind the bars, are innumerable “love motels” which Korean men literally drag their stumbling, resisting princess back to for a night of passion.

An escape from reality

Gangnam Style… there are so many meanings in this song title.  When Koreans think of Gangnam they think of a better, richer life.  It’s like being in Soho in Manhattan, or having a pad just off of the Hollywood strip — aspirational.  Gangnam is a temporary retreat for Korean women who spend most of their lives stressing over exams, work, finding a tall, rich, handsome husband by the time they turn 25, or suffering the consequences of being an old maid if they don’t.

Korean women live under massive amounts of pressure to be perfect in all areas and that conflicts massively with their desire to be happy, since happiness is thought of as the product of all of that perfection, not something to have now.  Those moments spent with friends at a Gangnam cafe is a real chance to be happy, now.  That also makes it your chance to meet the hottest women that Korea, and most of Asia, has to offer.

Don’t miss out!

Coming up over the next few weeks we’ll have some restaurant and club suggestions for you next time you find yourself in Gangnam or other parts of Seoul, so put in your e-mail address bellow or follow Asia Dating Experts on twitter or Facebook to make sure that you get the latest on dating in Asia.