I couldn’t be more excited to finally be able to make the PokerStars APPT Seoul Stop, which will be from April 3-6.
I used to live in Seoul, Korea from 2000 till 2007. It is a city which I dearly love. If it wasn’t for poker and my traveling the circuit as a Pro with focus on the EPT, I might still live there. Nowadays I try to go once a year, as it holds a special place in my heart.
So in case you have the chance to join us for this celebration of poker, here are 5 reasons why I love Seoul so much and that makes it a unique city and poker stop.
1. High tech
Seoul is one of the most well connected cities in the world, with free wifi spots available everywhere in the city.
Restaurants have call buttons on every table so you don’t have to wave over a server, movie theatres have option to choose seats like an airplane, and you can pay taxi drivers electronically without pulling out a credit card. Internet is probably the fastest in the world in most places; I recall being able to download entire movies in few minutes back in 2002!
The real reason for my move to Korea in the first place was of course their love for competitive video games, especially Starcraft back in the days. I once played in a Stadium of 20,000 people. Packed, of course! It’s a unique phenomenon that’s seen nowhere else in the world. It’s always a bliss to be able to casually turn on TV to watch top pros compete. I highly recommend visiting a pro-gaming house and/or watching a game live.
Korea is proud of its food. They prefer everything local and fresh, as noted with live octopus dishes (hello OldBoy!) and abundance of fish tanks in restaurants to pick your own fish from.
Koeans also breed specialized cows for their meat, also known as ‘Han Woo’. I personally think Korean meat is the 2nd best in the world just behind Japan’s famous Matsusaka and Kobe beef.
The most notable Korean meat dish is galbi, which is beef short rib that’s been marinated for 48 hours in a special BBQ sauce. It’s served on a charcoal grill with the waiters doing all the cutting and grilling. It gives us the chance to pick up the meat at it’s preferred cooking stage!
I don’t think I’ve ever met a person that didn’t fall in love with galbi. It’s a unique way to eat BBQ, and Koreans usually socialize and drink while doing so. They usually have eat with Hanwoo but they can also do it with the famous Sam Gyup Sal (pork belly, which literally means 3 layers of pork) or spicy chicken. All of them are delicious.
There is also the world famous Kimchi, cabbage fermented with spices, with different tastes depending the length of fermentation. There are many spicy dishes, which are all very flavourful.
3. Night life
South Korea was recently named the #1 consumer of alcohol, bypassing the Russians by double the amount of intake. It’s a culture that encourages alcohol for both social and business gatherings. The mix of cheaper-than-water-alcohol, abundance of venues, and the lack of closing hours (some never close) makes Seoul a great place to be at night. The earliest closing times are typically 5 or 6 am and no ’2am last call for alcohol’. You can party up 24/7 if you feel like it. When I was there few years ago, we once had to wait for a table to free up at a very busy after hour club – at 8 AM!
Once thing to note is that Koreans are a bit shy at first. But once you get to know them, usually with the help of some drinks, they become very friendly and treat you like family.
And if you ever get too drunk, no worries. Korea is one of the safest place in the world, and there are plenty of very clean, easy-to-learn public transportation system and taxis that are rarely more than $10 per ride.
There are also nightly activities that doesn’t involve drinking. Many restaurants open all night and movies play until 3am. If you prefer shopping, famous night markets like Dong Dae Moon are worth checking out. They are so big that one night isn’t enough to check out the entire market.
Another thing Koreans are known for is their hard work ethics. With an average office worker clocking in about 10 hours per day of work, it’s no surprise the service industry has developed greatly. This means almost everyone speaks English, late opening hours, quick delivery system, and great service everywhere you go at the fraction of a price.
There’s even a personal assistant service you can hire 24/7 to do whatever you want, from picking up food to reserving movie tickets to doing groceries. They do all the work for you, so you don’t have to – and no tip is necessary.
Their service is really one of the best in the world, and it’s one thing I miss truly miss about Seoul.
5. Beautiful people
Korean women are known as the most beautiful all over Asia. As if it wasn’t enough, South Korea is known as the top plastic surgery nation in the world.
While some may cry out ‘fake,’ there is no denial this has had an effect in the beauty industry of Korea that can be beneficial. With Seoul’s obsession for vanity comes cheap yet highly advanced beauty treatments and high fashion.
Everyone is beautiful – women dress up and make up, causing even men to do the same.
– There are of course so many more things about Seoul, but don’t hesitate to ask me anything would you require any advice, and hope to see you there!