CONTRIBUTED BY SIBO LUNGU
I love AK Plaza at Pyeongtaek for its convenience. Any place connected to the subway station, especially in this cold weather has me sold. For many in the Osan AB or Camp Humphries area, venturing to AK Plaza once you are settled in is usually a first stop. You get to try out the subway and visit a western-style mall that has a large department store, a CGV movie theatre and a food court.
In the lobby of the subway station there is very conveniently a Paris Baguette and a Daiso (like a dollar store, but prices are a little more than a dollar). The main floor often has vendors selling bags and shoes.
AK Plaza is an 8-story department store similar to a Macy’s or Dillard’s and its building houses other stores that cover your typical mall residents, i.e. cosmetics, jewelry, accessories, and kiosks (or tables rather) filled with merchandise.
The department store itself is similar to western ones. There are clothes, shoes and accessories for all age groups and both genders. The clothes are mostly by Korean designers and can be expensive, but there are also international (mostly sportswear) designers like Nike and Adidas. I have never seen as much sportswear anywhere as I have in Korea!
My favorite place in the mall is a Korean bookstore. I am a Barnes and Noble girl so I really enjoy wondering through bookstores and grabbing random gifts for my friends and family. I had never ventured into the bookstore for the longest time because I knew all the books in there were Korean. But recently, while looking at their Christmas card collection at the entrance, I decided to walk in and see what else they had for the season. I was not disappointed!
The bookstore has the same look and feel of a large stateside book store. You have your bestselling table loaded with books, and shelves and shelves organized by category. There is a colorful enclosed kids section in its pink and purple glory. There are magazines as well. The English selections were mostly business magazines. Sadly, there was no Elle, O, or Essence in English.
The best thing about the store is the variety of novelty items that make great gifts. Most are made in Korea so that makes them even more unique as gifts for family back home. There are toys, stationary, cards, stuffed animals, mugs, slippers and even tights!
I found a great deal on fur-lined tights. There were out of place in a bookstore, but for W3,000 I’ll take it!
With me, all roads leads to dessert, so another place I like is the food court. There are actually three main eating areas at this mall. One small food court is on the train station level; one large one with many options is on the 7th floor; and my favorite is the main AK Plaza food hall under the department store. I like this place because you get yummy food, a bakery, a grocery store, a wine shop, a pharmacy AND desserts all in one area. The rotating sushi spot is always fun. I love being able to eat something and then grab a few groceries and wine on the way out. It’s perfect.
They have some champagne and food gift sets this season too.
There is a 10th floor at AK Plaza. In the summertime, the roof floor is open. There is actually a swimming pool up there! One can have a seat on one of the benches while getting a great view of Pyeongtaek City. I haven’t gone up there in the winter so I am not sure what they have going on. But this is Korea, and there is always entertainment, so I would not be surprised if there was something interesting at the top these days.
The AK Plaza mall in Pyeongtaek is smaller than the one in Suwon, so some may find that the 30 minute trip to Suwon is worthwhile. Nevertheless, having a decent mall nearby is great if nothing else but for the modern movie theater (tip: yummy caramel popcorn) for a night out.