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[Well-curated] Cartoon heaven, luxury sushi course and NCT Dream exhibition

Dec. 29, 2023 - 09:01 By Lee Yoon-seo By Hong Yoo By Lee Jung-youn
Studio Ghibli Collection, Popcon D Square (Lee Yoon-seo/The Korea Herald)

Animation, cartoon lovers' heaven

Situated on the sixth floor of HDC IPark Mall in Yongsan, central Seoul, is a fantasylike space in which animation and cartoon characters from across the world are displayed, along with a plethora of merchandise.

Dubbed Popcon D Square, the space is separated into three zones. The first zone, categorized as character shops, contains the Studio Ghibli Collection, Marvel Collection and stores Aniland and Ichiban Kuji.

Figurines and stationery based on popular characters from Studio Ghibli and the Marvel universe are sold. In Aniland, goods featuring popular Japanese animation characters such as Shin-chan are sold, while in Ichiban Kuji, visitors are allowed to buy lottery tickets to win goods related to Japanese animations they like.

The second zone, dubbed Daewon Museum, holds exhibitions related to popular cartoon series such as "Doraemon" and "Sgt. Frog." Currently, Daewon Museum is holding the exhibition "SpongeBob's tumultuous time travel" that wraps up Sunday. The exhibition, which cost 15,000 won ($11.58) for adults and 13,000 won for those under 18, is held from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The last zone, named Popable, is a cafe which collaborates with various cartoon series to sell character-related desserts. Currently, the cafe is selling desserts decorated with characters from various series such as "SpongeBob SquarePants," "Sugar Sugar Rune" and "Final Fantasy 14."

Chef Oh Yong-tak prepares dishes at Ooki in Nonhyeon-dong, Seoul, on Tuesday. (Lee Jung-youn / The Korea Herald)

Enjoy private, delicate sushi course at Ooki

If you are looking for a private and luxurious restaurant to mark the beginning of new year with close friends or families, Ooki might be a good choice.

Ooki, run by chef Oh Yong-tak, is a small Japanese omakase restaurant located in Nonhyeon-dong, Seoul. It is a small restaurant with a maximum capacity of seven people. Book the entire place to enjoy your meal in a private atmosphere.

The course changes every time, depending on the freshness of ingredients and the season. Usually, sweet and savory Chawanmushi, Japanese steamed egg custard, is served as an appetizer, and about 20 courses including sushi and small dishes will be served one by one. Customers can watch the whole process from the chef slicing raw fish to assembling the dishes.

From left: Mackerel sushi, horse mackerel sushi and grilled hairtail with sea urchin and caviar wrapped with dried seaweed (Lee Jung-youn / The Korea Herald)

Among the courses, unique dishes such as rice with sea urchin and blowfish testicles, and sliced raw filefish with filefish liver and tuna monaka were served, a feast for the eyes and taste buds. One of Oh's star dishes features blue-backed fish, which is not frequently used in low-cost sushi restaurants as it may taste too fishy or smelly if handled wrong, making for a memorable mackerel sushi or horse mackerel sushi.

Lunch is 80,000 won ($62) and dinner is 160,000 won, with lunch reservations only available on weekends. The restaurant is closed every Wednesday, and the second and fourth Thursday of every month. Corkage for wine and sake is 30,000 won per bottle, while whiskey corkage is 50,000 won per bottle.

NCT Dream's seventh anniversary exhibition 'Theater of Dreams' seen in Seoul on Wednesday (Hong Yoo/ The Korea Herald)

NCT Dream's 7th anniversary exhibition

NCT Dream is celebrating its seventh anniversary with the exhibition “Theater of Dreams” at Theatre des Lumieres located in Walkerhill Hotel and Resorts in Seoul.

The exhibition offers an immersive experience of the K-pop boy group’s performances through music and lighting effects.

This is the first-ever art and music immersive experience, also known as AMIEX, for a K-pop act.

The exhibition includes a media art zone in which clips of NCT Dream’s concerts, letters, music videos and pictures of the group, are projected everywhere from ceiling and walls to the floor.

The projection begins with the music video of the single “ISTJ” followed by music videos of nine other singles.

It takes roughly 50 minutes to go through the immersive experience in the media art zone.

There are other sectors of the exhibition including a letter room where visitors can leave letters for the group, and a green room, which is a makeover room where one can experience becoming a K-pop star preparing for a stage with NCT Dream.

Fans can also enjoy drinks and desserts named after the members at a cafe, and check out the merchandise shop at the venue.

The exhibition is open until Jan. 31, 2024, and its entrance fee is 25,000 won ($19.00).