Today we went to the movies to see Toy Story 4. Sounds simple, right? If you think going to the movies in South Korea is simple, you are so wrong. Not just wrong, but so wrong. Everything is so complicated here. It doesn’t help that we don’t speak the language and that we are notorious for just being all around dumb, but I don’t think this time it was all our fault.
Day 30 South Korea Family Travel Journal:
Going to the Movies in South Korea
The Megabox Theater is on the top floor of Triple Street just across the street from Faculty Housing. We can see it from the windows in our apartment. We tried to go see a movie shortly after we got here, but because it was so complicated we left without going. We thought we knew and understood enough this time around that we could figure it out.
Much like in America, you purchase your tickets for the movie at a kiosk. Except unlike in America, nothing is in English. There is no American or British flag in the top corner, or any flag of any nation. Nor are there any universal symbols to indicate payment, or maybe a thumbs up, you selected a movie icon! Yay! No it’s just all in Korean.
The movie options were images of the movie posters, and the times were numerical. Fortunately I’m a whiz at military time. Then, we just kept pushing the button on the right. Because the right side typically means forwards. It worked!
Then it was time for snacks. At the movies in South Korea your movie treat options include fries, cheese bread, squid, fried chicken, popcorn and drinks. Purchasing snacks is also done via automated kiosks, and there are also no friendly flag language options either. But, we had to get popcorn because, this is Widmore:
During our time in South Korea, and elsewhere, when a conversation involves more than what can be communicated through pointing and gestures we typically use the Google translate app on Apple or Android. There is a communication option that allows both parties to speak in their native tongue, and the app will translate it! It’s actually really cool and works really well.
When we can’t read something in another language we also typically use Google translate. The app has a camera option that scans the writing in real time and changes the image on your phone. It sucks at symbolic text. It was virtually useless in Japan. In Korea, it tells me french fries are body select, which I guess is more right than wrong.
It did however manage to tell us what flavor combinations of popcorn were available and between garlic, normal, cheese, and caramel we choose normal and caramel and fuddled through the ordering process once again. After ordering on the kiosk we were issued a number and waited for it to be called. Simple enough, but it took forever. Then Molasses had a poopy diaper and I had to change her with barely enough wipes to finish the job. Okay, all this is important because by this time we were just a little bit late for the start of the movie and finally headed into the theater.
The theaters are not on the same level as the tickets or concessions. You have to go up two more floors to reach the movie theaters themselves.
Now, just a few minutes prior to this Gabriel and I had a debate about which of the eight movie theaters we thought the movie was in. Gabriel insisted it was theater #4. I insisted the #4 was part of the name of the movie – as in Toy Story 4. He assured me he double checked with the popcorn vendor so, we went into theater #4.
Previews were beginning and so we quickly took our seats and settled in. Except these weren’t previews. At the movies in South Korea they play commercials. For 30 minutes. For 30 minutes prior to the start of the film they play commercials at the movies in South Korea. And not just that, but they play the same commercial three times before a new one. It was this odd mix of brainwashing slash subliminal messaging slash hypnotic trance voodoo magic.
If a business man gives you 5 bananas and holds up his hand indicating you should stop talking and look through paperwork, you are getting 5g service for your cellphone.
We did see one actual movie trailer for the new John Wick 3 movie. It is dubbed in Korean, and the only intelligible English word said by Keanu Reeves is the number 2. Which we can only assume means he has to go potty.
Speaking of potty, we learned about the Butt Detective from Japan. Oh yes, it’s a real thing and he’s solving cases with a poof! Get your kids the Detective Butt book series or the Season 1 DVD collection today!
Remember our favorite new airline, Jin Air? All Inflight crewmembers also train to be firefighters before kissing their children goodnight.
And G-market has luggage that will make you say Damn.
All the while, Widmore is guarding the popcorn because no one is allowed to eat it until the movie starts.
Finally the movie started. And it was not Toy Story 4.
40 minutes later and we have successfully not eaten any popcorn, and sat in the wrong movie theater for 40 minutes. We went back down the two flights of stairs to request a refund. The woman at the counter was not helping anyone, so I went up to talk to her. She pushed me away saying someone else had been waiting longer.
We looked around trying to figure out what that meant because the lobby was deserted. Finally, we found a ticket machine that dispensed a ‘take a number’ ticket. Then it was our turn. We explained the situation using the Google translate communication tool and this time she circled the theater number on the ticket stub/receipt and issued us a refund (or said she was going to anyway, but this is Korea where everyone is trustworthy so I’m sure she will, or we just paid $120 to see a movie).
We went back upstairs to the theater level, 15 minutes early this time, and found a ticket checker with a rope across the hallway. We were advised that no one was allowed in the theater until 10 minutes before the show. So we got more popcorn. Cheese and caramel this time, which tastes nothing like the delicious GH Chicago Mix that no one says I’ve had enough of this stuff after 32 bags of it.
Gabriel was also finally given a Korean name. A few days ago we learned that if you are Korean and you go to America, you are given an American name while living there. Well, today, Gabriel was issued a Korean name. That name is Daybro. He was issued this name when the kids were parking their scooters at the movies in South Korea. So many interesting things in that sentence.
Finally, we were allowed in the theater. 10 minutes later the ads started. The same 30 minutes of ads on repeat. That is two hours of our lives we’re never getting back.
Also, the fire alarm went off at the Daiso today and we were blocked from leaving the nearest exit while the intercom system was shouting “The Building is on Fire”, “The Building is on Fire”, “The Building is on Fire”.