Guri Greats #2: Lotte Department

Hi friends!

Today I bring you another instalment in the Guri Greats series, featuring the one and only Lotte Department! I previously wrote about Bom Nal Bunch Cafe, which you must check out (really, you must). Today, I am taking it in a different direction, from cute, quirky, independent cafe to behemoth, chae bol, consumerist department store. And that variety is just the reason why I like love Guri so much!

If you have ever visited Korea, you are probably already familiar with the domination that the Lotte Group has. I’m sure I’ve written about it before: there’s Lotte Mart, Lotte Cinema, Lotte Super, Lotte 999 (a supposed “discount” store that isn’t cheap at all), and they also licence a whole lot of stuff in Korea (including Doritos, Peppero and more). Basically, they’re everywhere. And if you’re wondering what chae bol is, it’s a Korean word that refers to the big Korean conglomerations that are family-run. There’s not many of them, but they (and their sons) basically control Korea. And Lotte is no exception.

So, if you’re wondering what this wonder looks like, this is what you’ll see:

Lotte Department, Guri
Lotte Department, Guri

Initially, I really wasn’t a fan of this place, as I thought it looked too cold and sinister from the outside (I still sort of think that). However, Gavin opened my eyes to the wonders within and now I love going there. I initially thought that Lotte Department was just a huge rip-off for people wanting Western brands (and it can be), but there is also a lot more on offer that you may not notice at first.

Starting with the food court. Oh lord, the food court.

The Guri Lotte Department food court <3
The Guri Lotte Department food court <3

You can basically get anything you want – and more. I had no idea it was this awesome until Gav showed me the way (literally). It’s amazing! Of course, they have a Lotteria and Angel-in-Us (coffee store), both of which they own, but there is also a sushi train place, many dumplings, fried chicken, chirashi, Timberry, New York Hot Dog (they also own this, but whatever), Natuur Ice-cream, an awesome French bakery, a juice stand, a wine shop, an abundance of hand-made cake stores and this awesome place that does this fried bean shoot dish which is incredible (I don’t know the name but trust me, it’s gooood). The awesome thing is, although a lot of the clothes and items upstairs may be expensive (although that isn’t always the case), you can definitely get a good feed downstairs for pretty cheap. Plus, it’ll be delicious.

It’s also one of the only places in Guri where you can get an avocado. Seriously. It will cost you 4,800won and it will probably be a bit too firm, but they’re there. Avocadoes just aren’t something you can get easily here, and that’s fine… except when it’s not. The wine cellar downstairs that has a great range at not too much cost. We usually buy a wine called Amigos, which is from Chile and is amazing… and it’s only 5,000 won. My mind is constantly blown here!

So this is one awesome reason for my newfound respect for Lotte Department Store. Another is the range you can find. I love Korea, and all the quirky things you can find here (Daiso anyone?) but the thing is, sometimes Korean people don’t. I mean, if I want to give a gift, I don’t necessarily want to give something that I would like to receive. Things are a bit different here, and brand names mean a lot. So, having a place iwth all of the international cosmetics brands (L’Occitane, Chanel, Dior, Clarins, Benefit, Clinique) as well as the high-end Korean and Asian brands (su:m37, belif, Hera, Shiseido) is mighty convenient. As much as I don’t necessarily like to buy that stuff for myself, I love that I can go to Lotte Department and pick up a nice (Korean-worthy) gift – and then walk 5 minutes back to my house. Amazing.

The beauty hall hidden within
The beauty hall hidden within

Some of the brands that I personally buy from the Guri Lotte Department tend to be Uniqlo, Lush (although that was a once-off because Lush is super expensive here), Valleygirl (surprisingly) and Giordano. Of course, there are a million other Korean brands that I’m not really familiar with and some really expensive Western brands, but these are some that spring to mind (and budget). There are also a bunch of restaurants on the 8th floor, including TGIF’s, Angel-in-Us Coffee, School Food and a few other fance-lookin’ Korean resaurants. There really is something for everyone – and it’s all right on your doorstep.

I also find the service at Lotte Department to be incredibly professional and pleasant. The people who generally shop at Lotte Department tend to be women, and generally women with money. Just because I have found things I can and want to buy, does not mean that there isn’t exorbitantly priced TVs and massage chairs in the same complex (there is)! The benefit of this is that all of the staff are super polite and efficient. Also, something I find a bit weird is if you go right near closing time (8ish), all of the staff will be standing at the bottom of the escalators and at their posts in their stores… and they bow at you. All of them. I feel like I am the Queen of England when this happens, and it actually makes me feel quite uncomfortable. But hey, it’s a unique experience!

And on that note, friends, these are the many and varied reasons why Guri’s Lotte Department is my second Guri Great. Stay tuned for more in this thus far incredibly short series, as I am sadly leaving Korea in 4 weeks! Gav actually left yesterday, and many a tear was shed (by me). I feel like my time in Korea is coming to an end, but there are still a lot of things I want to squeeze in before I get kicked out of the country. And I’ll be sure to blog about them all for you!

Until next time,

Steph x