One of the things I have learned while living in Seoul is that South Korean look at the world differently than pretty much any other culture I have experienced. For example, right now, it is very popular with the youth of Korea to wear clothes that depict the death of the beloved Sesame Street characters. I don’t know if they even know what Sesame Street is, but they really want to see all of their characters dead. In a way, it is disturbing, but I think that they think it is endearing.
Not all of the things that they enjoy are as creepy. They are definitely a coffee culture, even though this is not traditionally what they were. There are numerous cafes out there, most of them, the typical cafes you would find in any other place in the world, including the over-saturation of Starbucks, but they have specialty cafes as well. There are board game cafes where you can go and play any of the games that they have on the shelf. They also have ones that allow you to play with legos, or rest in a fake indoor garden. These are all popular, but the most popular of them involve animals.
There are cafes where you can hang out with dogs, or cats, or even goats, but the one that I went to yesterday let you hang out with meerkats, Meerkat Friends. It is not in Itaewon, but it is only a fifteen minute subway ride over to the Hongdae neighborhood. It is the perfect way to spend a wet and rainy afternoon, and it is a thing that is typically Korean. It costs 12,000 won to enter the cafe, and they serve a variety of drinks there even though nobody really buys any of them. You then get the opportunity to sit in a pen with a herd of meerkats that crawl all over you, and nestle close so they can get in a quick nap. They let you stay in there for ten minutes at a time, but then there are other animals roaming around the cafe that allow you to play with them as well. They had a couple of cats, a couple of foxes, and a couple of raccoons. It was a fun experience, and we quickly lost track of time as we played with the animals.
If you do come out here and want to visit one of these cafes, I recommend that you do your research on the places first. There are a lot of cafes that house animals, but not all of them are kind to the animals that they have. Meerkat Friends does a great job of caring for their animals, and it is almost as if they twenty pets that they get to play with every day. If I wasn’t a teacher, this is the kind of place that I would look to work at because it would be fun to go to everyday. It was fun to go to just for one day, and it is a place that everyone should seek out if they ever find themselves in Seoul.