The observatory inside the 63 Building can only be reached by a transparent elevator. On my way up, the twinkling lights of the city unfolded while the dark flowing water of the Han River shrank beneath me. Exiting the elevator, families and dopey-eyed couples wound their way through the exhibits of the Sky Art Museum.
The current exhibit, Faces, was a collection of portraits from Korean and international artists. At night the artwork reflected against the windows of one of the most iconic buildings in Seoul. Guests peered through the vibrant colors of an Alex Katz or Julian Opie ghost exhibit before taking in the glittering view of Seoul.
When I approached the last room, a small crowd of people were whispering and pointing. A rope separated the gawking group from a single girl seated in a balloon covered room. A heartfelt essay was being projected while a cameraman filmed the slouched figure. Considering her petite frame and casual clothes, she didn’t look old enough to be proposed to. She obviously felt self-conscious of the crowd behind her and occasionally glanced back at her impromptu paparazzi.
When the projection finished, a slender man emerged in a suit for an awkward hug. The little crowd began to chant what I’m pretty sure was, “Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!” However, the romantic moment failed to materialize and the couple walked over to a table for a private toast. While the view was beautiful, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the decorations and method of delivery were embarrassing. Balloons are a bad symbol for love as they deflate and pop, while a power point is too impersonal. Perhaps he should have tried giant rock pyramids- now that is a decoration which demonstrates durability and dedication.
As our group stumbled in, soaking up the atmosphere and admiring the familiar ovular face on the photographic menu, the woman at the cash register appeared bored and irritated. She dully pointed to a sign which read, “Please find a seat before ordering”. The bright and cheerfully decorated front room was full, so we proceeded to the interior room. The walls were pink and the lighting dim. The chairs were comfortable, but I could tell the staff hadn’t been back in this corner to wipe up spilled drinks and sweep away stray hairs.
The pricy coffee was served in thin paper cups. “I would be disappointed if I didn’t see Hello Kitty on my Earl Gray latte,” I exclaimed before photographing my beverage. “I’d be disappointed if did,” my Finnish couchsurfer replied indicating her black coffee. While I enjoyed my drink, I didn’t feel like I was in Hello Kitty’s café. The space felt like my claustrophobic dorm room- small and void of sunlight.
How to get there:
63 Building – Line 5 Yeouinaru Station, Exit 4 (11,000 won for the Sky Art Museum)
Hello Kitty Cafe – Line 2 Hongik Station, Exit 9