You know how life doesn’t always turn out as planned? And sometimes things are just not what they seem to be? Well, I’ve had my fair share of those moments, but it doesn’t mean I’m prepared for them, some things just catch me way off guard.
For example, exhibitions. If you are familiar with the Korea Blog you’ll probably know I go to a lot of exhibitions/expos/festivals/fairs. I love everything that has to do with art, but I also love everything that has to do with living, the quotidian life; anything that evolves practical living in my book is okay, so when the news of the “Megashow” came around, and when I learned it wasn’t a K-pop concert but a living products and design fair, a “housewife’s paradise”, I immediately thought to check it out. (Granted, I’m not a housewife, but you still need household goods.) I was hoping that there would be something unique and “mega” to the show, differentiating it from various other expositions that take place throughout the year.
The show took place at KINTEX in Ilsan, north of Seoul this month. The venue holds many expositions and concerts all year long, among which my favorites are the food fairs. Since household goods usually include food related goodies, I was expecting many happy products for the kitchen to be heavily featured.
Remember my rambling introduction to this post up there? Pretty much sums it up. The exhibition was nothing like what I expected. It was like falling into Alice’s rabbit hole; I had no idea what was going on, even though everything looked so familiar.
Have you ever been to a traditional tented market in Korea’s countryside? One that pops up every 3, 5, 10 days? (Called 3-day market, 5-day market, 10-day market in Korean, respectively.) Where they sell everything including the kitchen sink? Banchan (side dishes), socks, sportswear, chairs, teas, accessories, toys, fish, electronics – I mean, everything, EVERYTHING? Well, that’s what the Megashow looked like, except that it was indoors at an exhibition hall. It got me thinking that maybe “mega” was an euphemism for “hella lotta stuff”. Merchandise – not necessarily all Korean – bombards you as soon as you walk in, without any organized sections at all. Stuff like this:
Several banchan stalls were present, and a whole lot of “healthy foods” promoting eternal health with their product – exactly like all those food stalls in those countryside markets. I found some quite intriguing.
And so the list goes on and on. To my Korean eye, not many of the things were notable enough to take photographs of. After being utterly baffled for a while, I found myself being quite entertained at the whole setup, because it was hilariously ridiculous and unexpected. To be honest, there wasn’t much “show” going on, and compared to other living goods expositions where I usually spend the entire day, it took me less than an hour to look over the whole expo (and an extra 30 minutes to take photos).
What is ironic, however, (and sort of funny) is: although I went around thinking it was a hodgepodge mess, I DID leave with a bunch of stuff. And I’m not a shopaholic either, who just has to get things because they are there. I wound up buying a 100% natural wood cutting board from Australia (because the brand isn’t in stores yet and it was selling for cheaper than online), snap ice-towels (those sports towels which immediately “freeze” when you wet and snap them, also because they were at half-price), and several jars of pickled myeongi leaves (명이, “mountain garlic”/victory onion) from Ulleung-do (because those are the best myeongi you can get and after tasting the excellent samples I got enough to give to foodie family members.) So, in the end, instead of it being a waste of my time, it turned out to be the opposite; a very practical shopping spree. Perhaps that is why they call it a housewife’s paradise – because you do leave with stuff you need. Perhaps that is also why they decided to hold this expo in its second year running, because the sales results from the first were agreeable.
The show is supposed to be a regular event. If you’re interested in household goods and homemaking, in the Ilsan area, able to get free tickets (either by invitation or pre-registration), it’s worth a look around, if only for the novelty factor. If you’re not in the area, however, I don’t think the trip would truly be worthwhile. I would suggest the Seoul Living Design Fair or other similar themed fairs with a longer history, which tend to be better organized.