CONTRIBUTED BY SIBO LUNGU
Going to the Movies in Korea
Sometimes it works out that you can walk into a movie theatre and find the tickets and seats you want. But for most blockbusters, the tickets will be sold out long before you show up, and even if you are lucky enough to find a seat, you are more than likely going to find yourself in the dreaded front row.
CineinKorea.com is a very useful movie ticket booking website in English. You just pick your movie, pay electronically, get your reservation number sent to you via text and email, and you are on your way!
The mobile and PC site have slight navigational differences but once you see one, the other will be easy to navigate. The screenshots below are of the mobile site since many people have smartphones.
- Find your movie
The mobile site is on the Search by ‘Movie first’ mode by default. You can click on the movie poster to see the theatres showing the movie and the dates it is being shown.
You may have heard or read that Korea has some very unique movie theatres. There are dine-in theatres (Gold Class), couples seats (Sweetbox), 4D theatres, Dr. Dre Beats theatres, and Starium- the largest movie theatre screen in the world. I just love this theatre! Back on the home page, you can use the radio buttons to filter for theatre type and also language.
The other option is to click on Theatre first in order to search by theatre. This is useful if you are looking for a specific theatre type or just one nearest to you. From Songtan, the Lotte cinema near city hall area, CGV Pyeongtaek AK plaza, and Suwon are the closest options. You will need to first select the province to find theatres. Seoul is listed separately from Gyeonggi so to search for movie theatres outside of Seoul like Pyeongtaek or Suwon, you would need to select Gyeonggi to filter to those theatres only.
You will also need to select the theatre brand. CGV, Megabox and Lotte are the common ones but the drop down will list them all. Unfortunately there isn’t an all option, so if you don’t find what you are looking, but you are sure it exists, just toggle through all theatre brands.
- Pick the showing time
The really cool thing about this website and Korean movie theatres in general is the ability for you to choose your seat. On this page you will see the times, and also the number of seats still available. As the theatre fills up, the less desirable seats are left, and this can help you decide if you really want to see the movie or go to another theatre.
Once you have selected the movie you want and the theatre you will be going to, you come to the page that shows all the showing times. Below each poster is the screen the movie will be showing on. Special screens will state the name i.e., Gold Class Starium, IMAX, etc. The buttons next to each poster shows the time of the movie and the number of seats available. The color legend at the top tells you how to read the buttons.
To the right of the movie poster you selected, if it says English, then the movie is in English, with Korean subtitles. Some movies may say Korean dubbing.
Once you add the seat to your cart, you can further specify which seat you want. There is the option to cancel your tickets for a refund if the seats you want are not available when your order is processed. Some tickets for popular movies do go fast, so this is a good idea.
- Pay for your ticket
There are a couple of electronic options to pay. I always use PayPal, but a local bank account or credit cards also work. Your reservation will be held if you don’t pay immediately, but if you really want to see the movie, I’d recommend paying immediately so you don’t risk being bumped from your seat.
The reservation number will be texted and emailed to you. It can take a couple of hours to come. I was nervous the first time, but the number came, the correct amount was withdrawn, and it all worked out.
- Pick up your ticket
Picking up your ticket is easy. Some theatres are very organized. You take a number as you would at the DMV and once it comes up you go to the counter, show the teller your reservation number (you can just hand them your phone), and they will give you your ticket. Easy breezy!
Once you have your ticket, I highly recommend hitting the snack area. After all, the snacks are half the fun. The cost of snacks is much less than in the US too. The popcorn bars are delightful! Caramel is my favorite; but I recently had a creamy caramel that was even tastier believe it or not! There is also squid which is an acquired sweet-salty taste I happen to enjoy as well. Theatres do vary and everyone has their preference, but getting your ticket early just gives you the comfort of knowing you have the seat you want and gives more time to browse the delicious snacks.