But does everyone outside Korea have any idea about Gangnam and where it actually is?
Well, the Gangnam area in Seoul is just across the river. The name actually means south of the river, and that area consists of three wards: Gangnam-gu, Seocho-gu and Songpa-gu. And Gangnam-gu has the priciest real estate in the country, and has an interesting 'expensive' character to it.
I have written a few blogs on a few occasions I managed to cross to that area: from an afternoon stroll after a wedding, to an interesting drive-through the main Gangnam thoroughfare on my way to a party, to a Friday night dinner in Gangnam, and even watching Rain's free concert!
And of course, I saw Brad Pitt in Gangnam's COEX last year when he premiered his film.
I live and work in the Yongsan area, and I rarely cross the Han River during the week for anything. But I'm not sure if it's a coincidence that with the incredible popularity of Psy's song, I find myself twice this week in the Gangnam-gu area.
First was the invitation from the Korea Film Council to watch Red Maria, a very interesting documentary film, and the second was when friends Soo-jin and James decided to meet up in Gangnam for dinner.
Soo-jin and I were coming from the Yongsan area, and James, who works right smack in the middle of Gangnam, around the Kyobo Building intersection (lucky guy!), would meet us there. As expected, driving through rush-hour traffic was not amusing, but we made it to the Apgujeong Station area in about 30 minutes, where James was waiting.
(Traffic. Gangnam style.)
As Soo-jin knew the inner streets very well, we drove through the Sinsa-dong area and ended up at the restaurant next to Dosan Park. After the valet took her car away, Soo-jin led us to the restaurant:
Gorilla In The Kitchen? Why is that name very familiar?
Aah! It's Bae Yong-Joon's restaurant! Friends Fay and Cielo had been here before, and told me that there were a lot of Japanese tourists when they visited, understandably because of Bae Yong-Joon's popularity in Japan. They must have expected to catch a glimpse of him here. But tonight, while the waitress was getting our orders, I just had to ask her if he was indeed in the house. "No", she said. A very, very 'no'. Ha-ha-ha!
And while Soo-Jin and James picked from the menu, I ordered that pasta-with-chicken-something. To me, they're all just the same. Same ingredients, different names. And of course, different prices. Ha-ha-ha!
This restaurant actually tries to be different from other dining places as it promotes healthy eating. On the menu, it indicates the nutrition facts for each dish alongside calorie count. But I wasn't really interested to know how much salt or cholesterol or fiber is in my dish. I was there to touch base and chat with friends, and not to be told how much weight I gained while swapping stories about our lives in Seoul.
That night in Gangnam, our dinner was a bit pricey, but spending time with friends is always priceless (to paraphrase that commercial). I guess Bae Yong-Joon's cost of the dietary research on the menu and the Gangnam real estate rental added a few more to our tab. I can now understand why Psy had to sing about it. Ha-ha-ha!
And that's dinner. Gangnam style. Burp!