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Emily and Adrian’s Korean Adventure, Sponsored by Lotte

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Lotte is everywhere in South Korea. Literally everywhere. What began life as a fledgling enterprise selling chewing gum to schoolkids in post-war Japan is now South Korea’s biggest conglomerate, employing more than 60,000 people.

What amused us was the way in which this company – which is still run by its founder’s family – has managed to grab a slice of just about every market. Sort of like Virgin, but much more ubiquitous. If you go to South Korea, you can stay in Lotte Hotel, shop in Lotte department store, watch a movie in Lotte cinema, eat a Lotteria burger … and pay for all of it with a Lottecard. You can even watch the Lotte Giants play baseball, and buy some Lotte insurance in case you’re unlucky enough to get smacked on the head by the ball.

By far the best Lotte money-spinner, however, has got to be Lotteworld, in Seoul – South Korea’s answer to Disneyland, and in some ways very reminiscent indeed (see photo!). Lotteworld is an indoor theme park set over 4 floors with an ice-rink in the basement and a bridge leading to an outdoors ‘island’ with yet more exciting rides.

Magic Kingdom, anyone?

Magic Kingdom, anyone?

We were astonished that Lotteworld was in fact a proper theme park – being indoors we assumed it was probably more like a fairground, with a waltzer, a carousel and not much else. Well, it had a waltzer, it had a carousel … but it also had some seriously impressive rollercoasters, a ghost house, several ‘gyro drop’ contraptions, an indoor boat ride through Pharaoh’s temple (yes, really) and, possibly best of all, a balloon ride suspended from the ceiling which circled the perimeter of the park.

Look down for ice rink, up for balloons!

Look down for ice rink, up for balloons!

Even though we visited on a Friday, Lotteworld was packed with schoolkids who were clearly having a marvellous time. A group of them even cajoled us into posing for a picture for them outside the Ghost House. [Directorial instructions: “Make a scary face. No – more scary! No – even more scary!”]

By about 4pm, the kids were marched away and we enjoyed an evening of many rollercoasters with reasonably short queues. Unlike the UK, Korea has the sense to keep its theme parks open until 11pm, because there’s nothing quite like strapping your exhausted body into a motorbike-style coaster seat and plummeting face-first into a terrifying abyss … go Lotteworld!

Written by Emily

October 13, 2011 at 2:53 pm

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