The unimaginable happened. Comic Con came to Seoul. Cue the fireworks!!!
To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make it because of my schedule. Also, there was a lot of talk about how the event was going to be a huge flop. However, about a week before Comic Con the boyfriend and I decided to get tickets for Friday. Did I mention that they were only 20,000?!? So really, what did we have to lose? It was going to be Korea’s very first Comic Con. One way or another, it was going to be an experience.
This year, Comic Con was held at Coex convention center. It’s known for hosting all sorts of conventions and has several halls, all varying in size. The convention hall for Comic Con Seoul was much smaller than I had anticipated. In fact, we were able to go through everything a few times before it was over.
For such a small convention center, there was a surprisingly good variety of booths. I particularly enjoyed artist alley. It was one of the busiest areas in the hall and it wasn’t hard to see why. Artist from all over had booths showcasing their work, doing demonstrations and selling their own merchandise and prints. There was even a blank wall where anyone could show off their own drawing skills.
Of course, holding Comic Con in Korea would definitely have a different kind feel compared to anything held in the states. There was definitely a bigger presence of the “cuteness” factor that makes Asia’s comic culture so iconic. There were cute animal mascots walking around and walkthrough story sets. There was even an adorable cafe trailer called “Spoonz” selling coffee and ice-cream with their cute little characters plastered all over everything. They were even giving away fans and macarons which (as you would imagine) drew in huge crowds. I was like a moth drawn to the flame.
Since Korea is largely a webtoon based comic culture, there weren’t a lot of hardcopy comic books or issues for sale. This was kind of disappointing, since one might expect to buy comics at a comic book convention. There were about 2 or 3 booths selling comic books. One was even having a huge sale and I lost my boyfriend to it for a good 20 min. While we didn’t find any comics we wanted, we did walk away with 3 pretty awesome concept art books that we had been wanting for a long time now. If you’re interested in checking out the books we got, you can click HERE, HERE and HERE.
Another section of the hall held the Marvelous Grill & Steak where I finally got to try shawarma. They had chicken or beef, but since they were out of beef I settled for chicken. I’m not sure how authentic it was (my guess is not very), but it was basically a cold burrito. Not a bad cold burrito, but not worth 8,800. We also got a latte to sip on while we checked out all the cool statues and figures in the seating area. It’s also worth mentioning that Marvel cosplayers constantly stopped by this area to make an appearance and everyone loved it. Even my camera decided it would rather focus on Spiderman’s butt than my face. It’s kind of mean, but I get it (check out the video above for proof).
Finally, what would Comic Con be without cosplayers? Fortunately we never have to find out because there were tons of cosplayers, ourselves included! Korea actually has a pretty big cosplay community, so it wasn’t all that surprising. There were booths with famous cosplayers signing autographs and even the 501st Legion was there recruiting new members. There were characters from anime, star wars, video games and of course comics. Just about every genre of the nerdom was represented and that was just day 1.
In the weeks leading up to Comic Con there was a lot of talk among industry insiders about how poorly organized the event was going to be. The lack of celebrity appearances (only Steven Yeun & Mads Mikkelsen) and panels was another major concern. With the San Diego Comic Con setting such a high bar, many felt that it just wouldn’t measure up and would be a complete failure. I’m so glad they were wrong.
Overall I’d say it was a pretty enjoyable experience, especially since the tickets were so cheap! It was modest, but not bad for the first ever Comic Con in Seoul. They ended up with over 40,000 attendees over three days, so I’d definitely say there is a strong enough fan base here to keep it going. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they have in store for next year.