This past weekend I attended the Pokemon Champions Day event held at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza. I had been looking forward to it for quite some time for one big yellow adorable reason… the Pikachu Parade! I have seen photos and videos of this event from when it was held last year in Japan. The sheer idea of a furry little mob of oversized Pikachu walking amongst us was almost more than I could bare. So I was over the moon when I discovered I would have the chance to see the spectacle first hand.
Professional gamer Park Se-Joon won the 2014 Pokemon Game World Championship, which was held in Washington DC., and Pokemon Champions Day was held in Seoul in honor of his championship title. It was a two day event, but since I was busy on Saturday I had no choice but to go on Sunday. The parade was to be held four times a day so I wasn’t too worried about missing out, but just to be safe I decided to catch the first 2:00 show. However, once I got to the exhibition hall around 1:30 I was surprised to see a jumbled mass of confusion. After reading some signs and talking to a few event staff members, it became clear that all the parades had been canceled due to “safety reasons.”
It only took me a moment to realize how this would even be an issue. Then another moment to look up the pure chaos that had transpired the previous day, through Instagram. I would hardly have called it a parade, as there was literally no room to move. It seemed though all of Seoul had gathered to witness the glory of the Pikachu, but somehow turned into a mob like something out of World War Z. It may have been my imagination, but I could help but think that they looked a bit terrified in the photos, pleading for help.
Needless to say with the highlight of my day stripped away, I was incredibly disappointed. As a solution to this issue, four photo zones were set up throughout DDP, where you could stand in line and get your picture taken with a Pikachu… yes, just one. As disappointed as I was, I figured it was better than nothing. It was about an hour wait, but once I got into eyeshot of the Pikachu I could see him dancing around and posing for the people in line. He was super cute and this bit of interaction did help the time pass a bit quicker.
After getting my picture taken, I wondered back to the main event hall. There were all kinds of events going on. There was a section where you could learn how to play the card game, another where you could plug in your Nintendo 3DS and battle a staff member for a chance to win some pokelicious prizes and an area where you could plug in your DS and receive the pokemon that Park Se-Joon won the championship with. There were pop quizzes, a Q&A with the developers of the pokemon games and of course a gift shop. I couldn’t resist buying some Pikachu snacks for 1,600 and a pair of Pikachu ears and tail at 7,200 a pop. They were too cute to pass up!
The event was filled with people of all ages. Parents and their kids, students, adults and just regular old geeks like me. There were even some interesting cosplayers. So, even though it wasn’t what I had anticipated, it was still pretty fun. Seeing all generations of pokemon lovers come together was pretty cool. Hopefully this won’t be the last of we see of the Pikachu in Seoul.