Sub-title: The Case Of The Missing J Tune Office.
It was a rainy day – literally – in Korea when we left Yongpyeong that morning. Our plan for that day is to take the 8:30am bus so that we can reach Seoul by noontime, then we’ll just drop off our stuff at the hostel, freshen up and pick up the bukayo gifts and then we’ll proceed with the agency-hopping. Our target offices: J Tune, SM Entertainment, JYPE and DSP Entertainment. We would’ve wanted to go to YG and Good Entertainment’s offices, as well, but I know that YG’s new office is not in the same area as the other agencies, while for Good Ent, even the Tourist Information Centers couldn’t find their address. In J Tune’s case, I got specific directions from friends so I didn’t need the address. Or so I thought. As a public service to all my fellow fangirls and boys out there, I shall be posting specific directions on how to go to the offices I mentioned above (except J Tune). I’m not saying that you will be able to see your favorite stars there, though. In fact, you shouldn’t be expecting it.
Since we shall be coming from Jongno 3ga (Line 3 – orange line on the subway), we decided to drop by at SM Entertainment in Apkujeong first since it’s also on Line 3. The directions we got from the Tourist Info Center, and also the same directions that Jean, et al took the first time they went there, is that we should walk all the way to SM Entertainment from the Apkujeong station (20 minutes walk by Korean standards). You can do that, too, if walking is your passion. If it’s not, then there’s a more convenient way, and no, I’m not talking about taking a cab (although you can do that, too).
Directions on how to go to SM Entertainment – our version:
1. Take the subway and get off at Apkujeong Station, Line 3 (orange line). Get off at Exit No. 2.
2. Walk straight to the nearby bus station and take Bus No. 143 to Cheongdam Elementary School station. The bus’ PA system will announce the next stop, so listen carefully. Also, another clue that you have to get off the next stop is when you see Galleria Department Store on your left side. Additional tip: If you use T-Money and you were able to ride the bus within 30 minutes of getting off the subway, your bus ride is free.
3. From the bus stop, walk back a few meters to the opposite direction until you reach the nearest pedestrian lane (avoid jaywalking!) and cross the street. Keep walking in that direction until you see this building:
After that building, you will see the pale yellow building of SM Entertainment:
SME’s building is a bit nondescript and there’s a possibility that they might change the color, so to be sure that you are at the correct building, you may use these as your reference:
- You should see this road sign just in front of the building:
- And across the road is an SK Gas Station and some designer shops:
Although there is a strong possibility that a group of fangirls will be waiting at the sidestreets for their idols. If you see them, then most probably you are at the correct building. I must tell you, though, that SME’s guards are a bit rude especially when driving out fans. They also will not accept gifts on behalf of the artists, even if the gift is coconut candy (maybe they have a particular liking to coconut pie so candy is not that appealing to them?). I actually don’t see the point of staking out at their building if the guards treat the fans that way, but according to fan accounts, there is a big possibility of a celebrity sighting at SME due to the sheer number of artists in their roster, all of whom are required to report to the office if they don’t have anything scheduled for the day. We didn’t see any when we went there, though. Probably because of the rain.
So SME trip? Not quite successful. But at least we found the office.
Next stop: J Tune. *sigh* (See, I haven’t even started talking about it and I already feel exhausted.)
From SME, we took the bus to Cheongdam-dong since it’s easier to do that rather than going back to the subway. But to explain things easier – for JYPE, that is – I shall be using the subway as the reference point later when I give the directions. We got off near Exits 8 and 9 of Cheongdam station and followed the directions to J Tune that were given to me by friends. By that time, the rain hasn’t let up yet, in fact it got stronger. Only one of us has an umbrella; the rest just depended on our hooded jackets and hats to protect us from the rain. So far, everything has been going so well. In fact, everything looked so familiar to me: I’ve been there before. It was the same way going towards the JYPE office. The old Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf shop is still there, as well as the 1/2 Apple store. We found the Citibank, the SK Gas Station, we hit a small snag but later on found the Mnet Tower. The only landmark left is Samsung Autostation. We kept on walking. And walking. And… walking. Until we reached the end of the road.
No Samsung Autostation.
We tried asking random people on the streets for it but they don’t know where it is. I was close to thinking that maybe it’s my being geographically challenged that’s in full gear, but we are eight people in the group and I’m pretty sure my friends are much, much smarter than I am when it comes to following directions. None of us have seen any Samsung Autostations on both sides of the road. By that time, it’s already close to 5:00pm, we haven’t had a decent meal since leaving Yongpyeong, we were wet (the visor on my cap was literally dripping water), cold, tired (we were carrying, among others, a box full of bukayo weighing more than 5 kilograms which was meant to be given to J Tune staff) and hungry, not to mention that the paper where the directions were printed was already shred into pieces because of the rain (how poetic is that, huh). We retreated to the nearest McDonalds to fuel ourselves and think of our next plan of action.
The thing was, because the directions I got were so thorough and specific, I never bothered to write down J Tune’s complete office address. (1) I never thought I’d need it since the directions we have are of the “turn right to an alley and walk 10 steps” kind; and (2) from what I knew about Korea, addresses don’t mean a thing there. It’s the directions that matter. Apparently, it’s not the case anymore. Cabs have GPS navigators on them, and when we asked people for directions, they would ask us for the name of the building. Given that scenario, we decided that the next best thing would be to look for a PC Bang (internet cafe) and search for J Tune’s office address on the ‘net.
So off we went to look for a PC Bang. We passed by a dental clinic and someone – probably the dentist – pointed us to the main street where, according to her, we could find a lot of PC Bangs. We immediately spotted one located at the basement of a building, beside an Alpha office supplies store. I quickly went in with Lou, Jean and Joelle.
Naturally, the first site that I looked for is J Tune’s official site. Lou jotted down the address and phone number in Hangeul, then we asked the guy manning the shop if he knows where it is. He couldn’t find it even when he used the internet. He just said it’s so far from where we’re currently at. Just then, someone, I’m not sure now if it’s Jean or Joelle, barged through the PC Bang and said, “omigad, Park Hae Jin is outside!” I completely forgot about the J Tune address and ran out, entrusting everything to Lou. Sorry, Lou! You don’t know him naman eh, in fact you thought Park Hae Jin is a girl. Hey, I absolutely love him in Family Outing, and I’ve always declared that it’s impossible to run into a celebrity in Korea. Apparently, I was wrong. That, or I’m just looking for the wrong celebrities.
I got out of the PC Bang and was told by Tita Ruby and Chie that he’s inside the Alpha store. Joelle, Ellabel, Jean and Charity were already inside. So I casually went in and pretended to be looking for Charity so as not to freak Hae Jin out. I saw him signing autographs for Joelle and Ellabel, and then Joelle asked him if she could take a photo. He initially said no, but Joelle begged, “just one, please!” (Hae Jin knows a little English) which turned out to be four but Hae Jin didn’t seem to mind. I didn’t see any tinge of irritation or freaking out from him even if one of us was already chattering non-stop about how we love Family Outing and we have KBS World in the Philippines (which elicited a laugh out of Hae Jin when Jean and Charity cried, “it’s SBS!” together). Besides, we all know that it’s a MAJOR NO-NO for Korean celebrities to be taking photos with fans and strangers, but he allowed us to do it. Come to think of it, we basically broke the basic rule about invading a celebrity’s privacy because it was his private time yet there we were demanding for autographs and photos, so he has all the right in the world to act like an asshole towards us. But I never even detected an “uh, can I go now?” vibe from him. Maybe he’s thrilled that he was recognized by foreigners, or maybe it’s because he doesn’t have his managers with him so there’s no one to stop us? I don’t know. All I know is that Hae Jin was sincerely very, very nice, and very, very handsome, too. Just a little too thin, though.
We thanked him and then left him to continue his file folders shopping. But then we remembered about the bukayo so Joelle went back inside the store to give him some, which he gladly accepted. According to Charity who also went back inside to ask the shopkeeper for directions, she saw that the gift bag containing the bukayo was slung on Hae Jin’s arm while he continued shopping for folders. Also, when Charity told the shopkeeper that we’re lost, she saw Hae Jin turning around to look at her. He probably thought, some luck he had, running into lost foreigners who recognized him.
The Park Hae Jin incident turned out to be the day’s biggest blessing for us, especially for me. We were so down and out at the time but we were rejuvenated after running into him. Jean even said she’s willing to sleep in front of J Tune’s office now because of that. This, coming from someone who’s not exactly a fan of Rain and was probably not thrilled at the idea of exhausting herself looking for his office. I was particularly thankful that it happened because I’m pretty sure that my friends were already thisclose to murdering me for making them lost, tired, cold, hungry and set back by a considerable amount paid for taxi fares, all because of J Tune’s missing office. Thanks to Park Hae Jin, every noona’s Romantic Fantasy (and rightfully so), our spirits were lifted. Come to think of it, if we didn’t get lost, we wouldn’t have to look for a PC Bang and we wouldn’t run into Hae Jin. God loves playing his little jokes sometimes, ‘no?
Armed with what we thought to be J Tune’s address, we took a cab going there. We were told by the shopkeeper that it’s quite far from where we were, as in it was beyond the map of J Tune that we showed to him. When we got to the office on the address, we went up (surprisingly, there was no one manning the building’s reception desk) and naturally, since it was way past 7:00pm at the time, the office was already closed. We just decided to return the next day before we go back to Manila. Tita Ruby and Chie decided they’ve had enough and went back to the hostel with the box of bukayo while the rest of us continued our agency hunt.
Of course, at the time we took this photo, we were not aware that we were still at the WRONG office. We wouldn’t discover that fact until the next day.
Ok, so J Tune? FAIL, but with some tinge of hope. For now.
Next stop: JYPE.
Now this one’s easy. As I’ve said, some buildings already looked familiar to me when we were at the Cheongdam area. To be sure, Charity also asked the Tourist Information Center for directions and Joelle and Jean also looked for the address on the internet while we were at the PC Bang. The only snag we hit was when we reached the Cheongdam intersection and I wasn’t sure if we should cross or not. Joelle said we shouldn’t, so we just turned right and walked straight, having our eyes peeled for the Baskin-Robbins outlet that was the landmark. Once I spotted Bae Yong Joon’s favorite restaurant on the other side of the road, I instantly knew that we should’ve crossed the street. Thankfully, there’s another crossroad right in front of Baskin-Robbins.
Side note: here’s an interesting thing we spotted at the Cheongdam map at the subway:
You just know the importance of a jaw surgery clinic if it’s actually plotted on the subway map.
Here are the directions going to JYPE office:
1. Take the subway and get off at Cheongdam station (Line 7 – olive line) and go out at Exit No. 9.
2. Walk straight until you reach the big intersection. Across the road is Citibank. Cross that intersection.
3. Once you reach the other side, turn to your right and walk straight until you reach Baskin-Robbins. It’s at the corner of a small, slanted road on your left side.
4. Enter that small, slanted road and walk a few meters. You will see the JYPE office on your left side. You won’t miss it because it has a huge JYP Entertainment sign and there are big photos of their current roster of artists on their building. But for reference, there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts right across the building and you might see the DD signage first before you see JYPE.
Unlike other offices, JYPE’s office is bustling with activity even at night. As most of us probably know, they currently have a post-it wall in their garage (it used to be the graffiti wall during god/Rain’s time) where fans of Wonder Girls and 2PM can post their gripes demands messages for JYPE and their favorite artists. A few 2PM fans were there posting messages. They said the Hottests go on rotation every night to replenish the post-its. See what I’ve said about Korean fans being loyal and tenacious?
Then I saw something posted on the other side of the wall that I absolutely must document because it’s so spot on:
Just then, Charity started screaming, “Pau! Pau! Si… SI LEADER NG MBLAQ!!!!” Yes, we know the names of all the members of MBLAQ except the Leader’s, and he’s the one that we saw in person. I hurried towards Cha and she said he just drove by but stopped a few steps away from the JYPE office and seems to be maneuvering his car to go back. Seungho’s car windows were open and Charity’s voice was really loud, plus the street in front of JYPE was just one lane so I’m pretty sure he heard her. When he passed by the office again, I heard him say something in Korean probably at the GPS navigator in front of him, then he parked on the space beside the office. I crossed the street to get a good glimpse of his face to be sure, but when he got out of the car I saw him looking at me with a face that says, “I wonder if she recognizes me?” but not in an obnoxious way; he just seemed curious and I think if we approached him he would’ve obliged. Except we didn’t because we can’t even remember his name. I debated with myself if I should take a photo or not, but decided against it. He would definitely see me if I snap one and that’s just rude of me if I do that without his permission. He then went to a restaurant nearby.
Now that I think about it, if the bukayo was still with us, we could’ve just given it to Seungho. But then, who would’ve thought that we’d see a J Tune artist at the JYPE office?
Ok, so JYPE? SUPER-SUCCESS. Next stop: DSP Entertainment.
It’s already almost 9:00pm by this time and we still have N-Seoul Tower on our list of must-go places in Seoul that we haven’t gone to yet. But since we’re going back via subway and our transfer is at the Express Bus Station where DSP’s office is, we decided to still drop by. This is another one of those maps-and-directions-are-not-entirely-accurate sort of things. We got directions and the map from the Tourist Information Center. When we reached the Express Bus Terminal Station and looked for the landmark that is Shinsaege Department Store, it was there alright but the map was not clear as to where exactly DSP’s office building is in relation to the mall. We ended up going to the other side of the mall and having no idea where to go next, so we ended up taking yet another cab. When we found the building, it was another nondescript building with no English writing but we found out later on that it’s quite easy to find. All we had to do is to cross this super-awesome-looking overpass that we took photos of when we got out of the station but we never thought of crossing it.
Here are the directions going to DSP Entertainment:
1. Take the subway and get off at Express Bus Terminal Station (Line 3 – orange line or Line 7 – olive line or Line 9 – gold line), Exit No. 3.
2. Once you get out of Exit No. 3, you will see that overpass. Cross it to the other side.
3. Go down on your left side, then walk straight a few meters until you reach a street on your right side.
4. Turn to that street and walk straight until you reach Shin Seong Building on your right side. It doesn’t have an English signage, but the building looks like this:
It’s sandwiched between a bar/noraebang and a restaurant. Across the road is a Pho’ Mein Vietnamese restaurant.
DSP’s office is at the 6th floor (I think?) but since it’s already 9:00pm, we weren’t allowed to go in anymore. But the guard was quite nice and he accepted the bukayo gift for Kim Hyun Joong on our behalf. Now whether he actually gave it to Hyun Joong is debatable; the point is, we disposed of the bukayo that was meant for him. Unlike J Tune and Rain’s bukayo which I was so close to throwing away to the Han River in disgust.
So DSP Entertainment = mild SUCCESS.
After agency-hopping, we then went straight to N-Seoul Tower by getting off at Chungmuro station of the subway and taking Bus No. 2 in front of Daehan Cinema. We only have barely an hour to take pics at the Tower since the last bus is at 12:00mn, but it’s ok as long as that part of the itinerary was settled. After which, we went to Dongdaemun again to have very late dinner of the Korean food troika: bibimbap, ramyeon and ddokbokki.
After that was some last-minute shopping where I marveled at how good Lou is at haggling, even in Korea. We got back home at 3:00am and we still have to pack. And we still have to wake up early the next day because we have to go back to J Tune! This trip is so draining.
(More photos at my Facebook photo album.)
Next and last part: The Case Of The Missing J Tune Office, Part 2.