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Destination: Shinsegae Centum City (the largest department store in the world – Busan)

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Assume for a second that you enjoy big malls, or you enjoy meandering aimlessly for an entire day. Bigger than the Mall of America and the Macy’s flagship store in New York, the Shinsegae Centum City behemoth features almost every franchise Korea offers. Without needing to step outdoors, one has access to restaurants, a gym, a spa, a cinema, an ice rink, an art gallery, and a golf driving range. Oh yes, and hundreds of stores. With 509,810 square meters (that’s 5.49 million square feet) worth of floor area and 293,904 square meters of store area, there’s more room under this one roof than 2,355 average-sized American houses. To say ‘there’s a lot to see’ seems a huge understatement.

As the Lady in Red and I walked around, the hubbub seemed contained. No extravagant sales, no main stage attraction, and a surprising number of stores all selling the same thing. The point of this behemoth seems less focused on shopping and more on meandering. Between sharp corners and casual curves rest enough overpriced clothing stores to serve an army and enough walking space to make even the professional mall-walkers begin to limp. There isn’t any one place to look out and see it all, which seems the only downer; looking up, however, is easy around the escalators.

But does mass commercialism make this a place to spend a day? If you’ve enjoyed exploring the COEX in Seoul, then this Shinsegae is right up your alley. Go up to the 5th floor for a Kyobo bookstore, 6th floor for the Shinsegae Gallery, 7th floor to catch a movie, the 9th floor for a cold Sky Park,or stay on the 1st floor for a peek around the three-story Spa Land. And of course, the shops – most are the same brands you might find elsewhere, just more of them in the same spot.

And then there’s The Record – perhaps the reason this place was constructed in the first place. That world record was awarded on June 26, 2009 – and they’re quite happy about it. It’s a bit challenging to get a photo op with a piece of paper in a clear plastic cube, however.

Sure, there are plenty of other places to see around Busan – Haeundae Beach, Beomeosa temple, Busan tower, Geumgang Park – but until the weather warms up, this is as entertaining a place to explore. People-watch if you like, see and be seen, or just gawk at the prices.

Ratings (out of 5 taeguks): How do I rate destinations?
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Directions to Shinsegae Department Store: Take line 2 of the Busan subway system to the Centum City subway station. Shinsegae is connected to the subway station – just follow the signs. Free admission; department store open until 8pm (9pm on weekends and holidays), other attractions open even later.

Creative Commons License © Chris Backe – 2011

This post was originally published on my blog,Chris in South Korea. If you are reading this on another website and there is no linkback or credit given, you are reading an UNAUTHORIZED FEED.

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