The plaza encompassing the Olympic Stadium, where the closing ceremony will be held on Feb. 25, is jammed-packed with the crowd checking out the various programs its exhibition halls have to offer.
Upon entering gate six, you can see the flags of participating nations hanging on poles. On your right there is the Medal Plaza/Live Site where you will witness games, the victory ceremony and other outdoor performances.
|Visitors try on a VR machine simulating a snowboarding competition at the Culture ICT Hall at the PyeongChang Olympic Plaza in Daegwallyeong-myeon, Gangwon Province. (Yoon Min-sik/The Korea Herald)|
If you are a K-pop fan, the building on your left can truly excite you. Stepping on to the Live Pavilion, you will be immediately greeted by a member of a K-pop girl group, sort of. The camera across the entrance captures the image of a visitor and flashes his or her image on the overhead screen, along with image of a K-pop star waving and smiling at the visitor.
Upon stepping further in, you will find various photo zones that take pictures to make it look like your favorite stars are right beside you. There is also a virtual reality zone that gives you the experience of skiing down a slope, along with participating in other Winter Sports.
|A Live Hologram Concert inside the Live Pavilion at the PyeongChang Olympic Plaza in Daegwallyeong-myeon, Gangwon Province. (Yoon Min-sik/The Korea Herald)|
The true highlight of this building is in the hologram concerts of K-pop stars like G-Dragon and Psy, held once every thirty minutes inside the pavilion. The tickets are available at the ticket booth outside the exhibition hall, where you can also check for the list of “performing” artists.
Live Pavilion is operated from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m., and 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the days of opening and closing ceremonies. It appears to be easily the most populated exhibition halls in the plaza, with a long line of guests waiting outside during peak hours.
Across the street are exhibition halls of sponsors of the Olympics, Coca-cola, Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motors Corporation and Korea Electronic Power Corporation.
Hyundai Pavilion, whose outsides were decorated like the star-sprinkled sky, featured some very interesting exhibitions indeed. Themed under the Fuel Cell Electronic Vehicle, the exhibition hall depicted the stages of the hydrogen-powered vehicle’s operation in art form.
|Souvenirs of Suhorang -- mascot for the PyeongChang Winter Games -- at the super store in the PyeongChang Olympic Plaza in Daegwallyeong-myeon, Gangwon Province. (Yoon Min-sik/The Korea Herald)|
If you thought the Olympic mascot duo of Soohorang and Bandabi was too cuddly to pass up, you can shop for related goods in the Super Store inside the plaza. Very much like the one in Gangneung Olympic Park, you can buy souvenirs ranging from sweaters and T-shirts to an adorable pair of dolls of Soohorang dressed like a traditional Korean bride and groom. A Soohorang guide bot resembling the white tiger will roam around the store, providing information in various languages.
Move further toward the Olympic Stadium and you will find a huge Korean traditional bell -- which you can ring by the way -- and a hanok, a traditional house in Korea. This is the Traditional Culture Pavilion & Traditional Culture Plaza, where demonstrations in traditional Korean culture and folk experience programs are available. When I visited the venue in the evening, a group of people were experiencing “dado (art of tea)” inside the house.
|Traditional Culture Pavilion & Traditional Culture Plaza in the PyeongChang Olympic Plaza in Daegwallyeong-myeon, Gangwon Province. (Yoon Min-sik/The Korea Herald)|
For those who consider themselves a tech-enthusiast, the Culture ICT Hall is just the place.
Not far from the entrance are modern art works from the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. Then you will enter a hall housing a large pile of analogue TVs that are shaped like a turtle.
|Paik Nam-june‘s “The Turtle” is put on display in the Culture ICT Hall at the PyeongChang Olympic Plaza in Daegwallyeong-myeon, Gangwon Province. (Yoon Min-sik/The Korea Herald)|
Appropriately named “The Turtle,” it is one of video artist Paik Nam-june’s most well-known works. It was made in the honor of Joseon era’s legendary Admiral Yi Sun-shin, who was most widely known for his iconic “turtle ship” used in battles against Japanese invaders.
The real toys, however, are housed on the second floor. The UWV (ultra wide vision) theater plays videos related the Olympics in literally “ultra” wide screen. You can ask for interpreter/guide services at the help desk just outside the theater.
|A child controls the robot fish inside the Culture ICT Hall at the PyeongChang Olympic Plaza in Daegwallyeong-myeon, Gangwon Province. (Yoon Min-sik/The Korea Herald)|
On the ride, an intense screen hockey competition between two children was going on. What was peculiar about this match was that the “players” controlling the puck were actually two robot fish. When there is not a match, the two fish move freely inside the bank in an almost life-like movement and speed.
VR machines that allow you to experience bobsledding and skiing are also available at the ICT Hall. In case of skiing, for people can play at once and compete against each other.
All machines have a break time between the operating hours to prevent them from overheating.
The operation hours for the PyeongChang Olympic Plaza is from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., with last admission on 10 p.m. The hours on days of the opening and closing ceremonies are from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., with the admissions starting at 4:30 p.m.
Tickets cost 2,000 won, but those holding tickets for Olympic competitions are exempted from paying. You cannot re-enter the plaza once you have exited, and you cannot use an PyeongChang Olympic Plaza ticket to enter Gangneung Olympic Park.
As is with all other Olympic-related venues, only VISA cards and cash can be used at the Olympic Plaza.
For more information about the cultural programs going on at the Olympic Plaza, visit https://www.pyeongchang2018.com/en/culture/venue-culture-event?venueCd=plaza.
By Yoon Min-sik