When Avengers: Age of Ultron came out in Korea, it was a pretty big deal. Not only was Korean actress Claudia Kim (김수현) cast as Dr. Helen Cho, but the Korean government paid close to $2 million to Marvel to ensure that Seoul would be shown in a positive light. Personally I can think of a million better shooting locations within Seoul that they could have used, but the government made it very clear that they wanted the city to be portrayed as “high tech” and “modern.” Kind of boring in my opinion, but what can you do?
Anyhow, as a Marvel fangirl I was super excited to hear that the Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. would be setting up shop at The War Memorial of Korea (전쟁기념관). The exhibit opened on May 15, 2015 and is currently having an open run. Right off the bat, let me advise against going on a weekend as it attracts a lot of kids and families. My boyfriend and I went on a weekday afternoon and it was heaven. No rushing, pushing or waiting.
As soon as you enter, you are directed to the registration area where you will be assigned a Samsung smart watch to help track your “training” progress. Each watch has a QR Code which you can scan at various stations (within the exhibit) to save your quiz and training results. You will be asked to enter your name and birthday into a computer to personalize your watch, followed by a photo for your ID card. If you go with other people, you can also take a special group picture which you can choose to purchase at the end of your “training.”
After you get geared up, you will be taken into a special room to be debriefed by a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent on your “missions and tasks.” Once inside, the station is split into 4 character specific quadrants: Captain America, Hulk, Thor and Iron Man. Whenever you move into a different section, your watch will notify you of a multiple question quiz you have to answer about the character of the section you are in.
The watches add a really cool interactive aspect to the exhibit. Unfortunately, if your Korean isn’t up to par you will definitely feel like you’re missing out. All the quizzes are in Korean and any instructions given throughout the exhibit are in Korean as well. My boyfriend is far more fluent than I am, but there were times when we had to use a translator to figure things out. Also, if you move back and forth between the sections your quiz resets and you have to take it all over again.
The exhibit itself is very cool and immersive. There are quite a few life-size models, character weapons and even a “working” model of the tesseract on display. There are also tests you can take to check your strength, cognitive/reflex response and endurance to see how you measure up with various Avengers members. My results we less than spectacular even though I felt like I had a mini work out session.
Most of the exhibit is digital, with all sorts of information and diagrams about the characters on display. Luckily, most of the parts that are heavy in text are written in both English and Korean. Plus each section has at least one S.H.I.E.L.D agent in a lab coat ready to help if you have any questions or need assistance.
I think one of my favorite parts of the exhibit was the virtual reality part. Here you are given a pair of Samsung Gear VR goggles, which puts you smack dab in the first fight scene between the Avengers and Ultron. You can experience the scene from every angle possible. It was a little disorienting, but so cool!
Overall I really enjoyed the exhibit, though it was a bit smaller than I had anticipated. At ₩25,000 a person I was honestly expecting a bit more or at least some sort of souvenir. It was a little off putting to learn that I had to purchase the ID card at the end for ₩5,300… which I did because I didn’t go through all that training for nothing. I assumed for the price of entry, the card would at least be included. Also, since it was sponsored by Samsung, it did feel a bit like shameless self advertising at times.
All-in-all if you’re a fan I would still definitely recommend checking it out. It is very well put together and makes you feel like you’re in some sort of S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. Everything is very fancy, high tech and well thought out. Despite its shortcomings my boyfriends and I did have a lot of fun. If you plan on dropping by, you may want to scour the internet for a discount code first and purchase your tickets online.