Movie-Going in Korea

Now that I’ve settled into the school routine, and there’s not much if any time for traveling, I’m going to scale back the recent pace of blogging to one every other week and comment on daily activities and culture here- things I’m taking for granted but should be interesting for y’all.  First topic, near and dear to my heart: going to the movies.

Tongyeong has two movie theaters, and most weeks there is an English-language (almost exclusively Hollywood) movie to check out mixed in with the steady diet of Korean films, which are unfortunately unsubtitled in English (although you can find that in the big cities, like Seoul and sometimes Busan).  I’ll talk about the Korean film industry in a later post, but here it’s probably stronger than the foreign film market, which is rare.  Still, any Hollywood blockbuster will show up here, usually a week or two after it debuts in the U.S. However, in the case of studios trying to get some foreign box office success rolling, sometimes movies come here earlier than back home.  Historically, that’s been a sign the studio knows it has a dud on its hands and desperately wants some good news to report before it dies opening weekend in the States.


Lookin’ at you two

However, as the foreign box office becomes more and more important, making movies like Pirates of the Caribbean 4 and Alice in Wonderland some of the most successful films in history, studios are experimenting with a worldwide rollout before debuting in the states.  Disney/Marvel does it exclusively, which is exciting news in a few weeks.


Yep, get South Korea gets it first

The upshot is that I watch a lot of movies, mostly blockbusters with the occasional highly successful comedy or Oscar nominee sprinkled in.  Just like baseball games, you can bring whatever food or drink you please into movies, which means beer.  It certainly helps for something like Twilight.  There is a regular concessions stand as well, offering popcorn and soda, although the more popular option kernel-wise is caramel corn.  It also offers some fare that might not go over so well in the States, like dried squid jerky, fishcake, and hazelnuts.  I’m getting used to it.


I’m going to be eating a lot of this in my life.

Pricing is about the same, or a bit cheaper depending on where you’re watching flicks, with movies costing 8 bucks a pop, with 3-D adding a few more dollars damage.

The theaters themselves are pretty standard stadium-seating affairs just like any multiplex in the U.S., although I honestly don’t know how this town sustains two theaters, as no matter when we go they’re almost empty.  I’m not complaining, as it’s just more room to kick up your legs and crack open another beer.

For something like Imax you need to head to Busan, but one of the theaters in town does have a nice two-storey screen that is a reasonable facsimile.  There’s also been whispering that the seedier theater, recently purchased by a competitor, will add “4-D”, which is basically a seat that shakes and squirts water at you during a storm sequence like in Life of Pi, for example.  I’ll give it a shot at some point, maybe, but for now, I’m pretty pleased with my South Korean movie-going experience.


About zijerem

I spent two years neglecting my Peace Corps blog in Peru ( and now I've relocated to Korea (teaching English) and promise to get off my ass and write something every once in awhile...
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