Look up: clear skies, tall buildings, summer breeze.
Now look down: winding roads, zipping cars, and what looked like the end for me.
This was my view from Seoul Sky, the world’s fifth largest building and South Korea’s tallest. However, the terrifying part about it wasn’t even the fact that the building was so tall; it was the glass flooring.
Let me start from the beginning.
Seoul Sky is located in the Lotte World Tower––a must-go attraction in Jamsil, Seoul––offering a variety of activities to explore, such as shopping, museum going, and aquarium viewing. If South Korea was going to pack tons of adventure items into one building––it would be in the tallest tower they have available.
So, the first stop that my aunt, cousins, and I ventured to was The Other Side, a museum showcasing the vast works of artist Kim Junggi. You may not recognize his name, but you would probably recognize some of his works. Kim has collaborated with multiple famous entertainment productions, such as Parasite, Stranger Things, and DC Comics, visually bringing to life the world of each production through his unique, cartoon-like style.
And, we got to see this amazing work being done live and in-person. At the time we arrived, Kim Junggi was casually perched on a stool––using a simple pen that any third grader would use during school––and drew on a wide scroll of paper that spanned from one corner of the wall to the other. There was no previous sketch made or any type of structure planned; he was simply picturing whatever he wanted to draw in his mind and then immediately manifested it through his pen.
After wandering through the exhibit for a few minutes, we found ourselves at the entrance of Seoul Sky. Once you walk into the first floor of the tower, you’ll see tall black curtains and corners decorated with toy airplanes and postcards. To your right and left, digital screens greet you with virtual views of the skyscraper.
Then the moment comes: the elevator. After waiting a few minutes, we were able to board the very elevator that was about to shoot us up 123 floors. While the elevator was soaring at a rate of what seemed like ten floors per second, a robotic voice welcomed us to Seoul Sky. Both the floors and walls were made of digital screens, all working together to showcase a scene of Seoul Sky in the winter, spring, summer, and fall. One second, autumn leaves would wrap around our shoulders, and the other, cherry blossoms would drift throughout the soft breeze.
Finally, we made it. The 123rd floor. Stumbling out of the elevator, we met the skyline of Seoul. The tower had virtually no walls––just massive glass windows showing off all that Seoul had to offer. You could see the north of Seoul on one side, walk for a few minutes, and then immediately see the south.
I guess this is the part where I say that everything was absolutely breathtaking––that I loved it, that it was a beautiful view and I would pay all the money in the world to go back.
And, you guessed it, this is also the part where I say that that was not the first thought that came into my mind. The first thought that came––no, pounced––into my mind was the terrifying downward view of Seoul.
Seoul Sky doesn’t just have views of the skyline; you can also see 123 floors down to the very bottom through their glass flooring. Trust me, I never have been someone who considered themself as having a fear of heights. Upside down rollercoasters, ziplines, hiking: you name it, and I’ve never been particularly afraid of them because of their bewildering height. But, just throw in a glass flooring that’s part of the fifth tallest building in the world, and I might get a little, tiny, teensy bit scared.
My cousins, one 12-years-old and one 14, claimed that this would be nothing to them––that there was no way simple glass flooring would become a formidable fear for them. While I kept denying their claims on our way up the elevator, saying that there is no one who isn’t afraid of the glass flooring, I soon regretted it. Upon reaching the top floor, they comfortably sprawled themselves on the bean bags that were on top of the glass floor––but don’t get me wrong; it was an objectively scary experience.
But let’s move on––no need to dwindle on terrifying memories any longer. On a lighter note, currently, South Korea is being hit by a huge wave of mint chocolate. South Korea is a very trend-dominated place, and mint chocolate is definitely an S-tier trend right now.
When I first heard about this––including the fact that South Korea has now invented mint chocolate fried chicken (which I actually have heard is not that bad)––I was not the most thrilled. I’ve never been anti-mint chocolate per say, but I remember the last time I excitedly bought some mint chocolate ice cream at Wolly’s and tried it on a hot, Boston fall day––well, let’s just say it wasn’t my favorite.
But there was no way that I wasn’t going to take part in the mint chocolate craze in Korea. The first mint chocolate stop: Sulbing, a famous bingsoo (Korean shaved ice) chain in Korea. The moment I approached the electronic machine to take my order, a group of teenagers immediately caught onto what I was ordering. “Oh, the mint chocolate was so sweet, I couldn’t eat it,” they muttered in hush tones. Unfortunately for me, it was already too late; my card was inserted into the machine.
Our order number at last popped up onto the small restaurant monitor, and out came a cocoa powder-covered bingsoo, topped off with a mound of mint chocolate. I nervously carried it to my table, and my friends and I dug in.
The first thing we did was reach for water. The cocoa powder was definitely a bit dry on the throat, but after drenching the top layer with condensed milk, we could finally officially dig in.
And let me just say, it exceeded expectations. For me, mint chocolate has always been a hit or miss, just because the mint flavor is either extremely strong or extremely weak. However, what Korea does differently is that they make their mint chocolate a perfect neutral––neither too over- nor under-powering.
So naturally, I had to keep on trying. I went to Paris Baguette, a famous Korean bakery chain, and bought its powdered donut with mint chocolate filling. 11/10. I then went to Selly’s, a local donut shop, and then tried their mint chocolate donut (that looked like Cookie Monster). 15/10. Then, I then ventured to Baskin Robbins (which by the way, is a must-try in Korea) to try their second best-selling mint chocolate flavor. 100/10.
Every mint chocolate-flavored item has been nothing short of amazing, and I’m definitely on the hunt for more. Don’t be surprised if I actually try the mint chocolate-covered fried chicken. I have officially become part of the crazy mint chocolate fandom.