When I lived in the States, I went out almost every week to my local movie theater to watch some new flick.
I went so much that it actually got to the point in which I kind of needed it – every Thursday or Friday I would start craving a chili hot dog.
Even if I had went out to dinner and had a full meal prior to watching a movie at the theater, I would still crave and eat movie food at the theater. It was easy to just drop 20-30 bucks on deluxe nachos (chili and cheese), a chili hot dog, Dip-in-Dots, and a large soda. Keep in mind this stuff was for me. (Notice the absence of popcorn here.)
The reason why I did not start eating popcorn at the movie theater until this last year is because I always had this issue of choking.
It was as if I could not concentrate eating popcorn and watching a movie at the same time. When I started to eat popcorn during movies again, my partner always had to watch me to make sure I was not eating it too fast. Or, whatever I was doing.
Anyway, I can now eat popcorn and watch movies at the same time. Usually.
Which brings me to one of the reasons why movie theaters in Korea are awesome – they have caramel popcorn.
Sad thing is, the photos of the hot dogs have chili, but I have yet to receive a chili hot dog! Perhaps that will change when it is film festival time.
Going on, I have been in Korea for only four months and have seen a movie almost every week – just like I did back home in the States.
What I have come to find is that, as a foreigner in Korea, I am an exception.
I have found out that many of many friends here who have been here much, much longer than me only go when they are with someone who is Korean. Apparently, they have been too afraid… of something. I have still not quite pinpointed what that is.
It shocks me because it is so easy. These are friends who frequently go out to bars and restaurants (something I feel uncomfortable doing on my own), yet they are too intimidated to go to the movie theater.
Going to the movie theater in Korea is just like it is back home – with the exception that you get to pick your seats!
Another cool thing – the first row is still far enough back that your eyes are not tortured.
However, before you stop reading this page and jet off to your local theater – here is an extremely useful site, cineinkorea.com.
From that home page, you click on your province listed on the left column.
When you click on your province, you will reach a page that looks similar to this:
This page will show all of the theaters in your area. From there, click on a theater that is closest to you (if you know).
Now you know all of the showtimes for all of the movies you want to see! You can see the showtimes and whether a showing is sold out.
What is particularly cool about Cine in Korea’s showtime page is that it will show whether a movie is in English. You want to know this if you are considering watching an animation – those are usually dubbed. Also, a movie may be in French or some other Western language, and those subtitles will not be in English.
Anyway, I generally show up to the theater ten or fifteen minutes prior to showtime and order my ticket. However, if you want…
Cine in Korea allows you to book through them on-line (if you are extremely uncomfortable with showing up to the theater alone). You give them your phone number and you will get a text message (in Korean and in English) that you can show to the theater attendants.
Most Koreans book their tickets advance on-line, so if you are living somewhere like Seoul, booking through Cine in Korea could be a good idea. Or you could just buy your ticket in person in advance.
Some Final Notes:
- Theaters in Korea are not like in the U.S. – there are not 10 to 15 minutes of previews. Movies start at the showtime listed.
- You will get a Matinee price for a showing that starts before 10AM.
- You may want to write down the showtime for the movie you want. If you want to write down the movie also, make sure you write it in Hangeul – though this is not necessary because…
- If you can read Hangeul, you will notice that the Korean titles for Western movies tend to be the same (or approximations of the same title). So you should be able to just say the movie title and they will know what you mean (e.g. Ted “Koreanized” is Te-deu).
- I always make sure to hold up one finger to indicate one movie ticket (haha).
- The attendant will show you the screen of available movie seats, and from there you pick your seat!
- Your movie ticket will show your seat number. The seat numbers, by the way, are in a Western format (e.g. A1, B16, J9, etc.)
- Sometimes, you will get to see a movie before your friends back home! (Like how I saw Skyfall October 27th, 2012 instead of waiting until November 9th)
- Don’t forget to order caramel popcorn!