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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The marquee says... » » Seoul magic (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

daver
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Jupiter, FL
430 Posts

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So I was in Seoul, South Korea (okay, typing this from the airport waiting for my flight home), and thought of where to post this, and figured this is the best place (note to moderators - if you think of a better place, feel free to move it)

Before my trip, I poked around here and on the Internet to see if there was any obvious shows, (local) shops or what-have-you that I could explore during my short 2 days (after work) in Seoul. To my surprise, there was like NOTHING posted on the Café that was readily apparent (read: not much came up doing searches). But, an internet search yielded Alexander Magic Bar in Seoul. I thought I'd write up the experience here for anyone who might do a search like mine for their travels. In fact, might not be a bad new subject area for the Café (Traveling Magic?) Anyway...

I found one review from 2006 so you can search on "Alexander Magic Bar Seoul" and you'll get it. Here's my experience...

First, unless you speak Korean, before you get in your taxi, get the address from the internet along with the phone number and ask your cab driver to call them for you (they're very good about that here) and get directions specifically. It's in the district near the universities, but as with many things, on a small street off a small street, off a small street, so I'd bet without a call, no taxi driver can get you there (mine could not, and even called them when we were two blocks away because it's so small. Getting there was the only hard part.

The sign is at street level, and you walk downstairs into a dimly-lit, living room sized and feeling place. There's several small tables around the room, and two blackjack-looking bar-top halfmoon shaped tables covered in that closeup pad material (can't remember the name).

The current pricing is great, really. It's 20,000 Won (at this time, 935 Won= $1USD) so figure it's around 20 bucks. For that, you get two 20-minute shows and all the drinks you want for that hour. Yeah, and they keep asking you if you want another! Plus some Korean-style finger foods - caramel-like crackers and stuff. The drinks are soft drinks, beer (the Cafli - Korean beer, is really good) or even some liquor drinks.

I know, I know, what about the magic? Well, the review I cited earlier gives you the history of the place so I'll not repeat that here. There was a large group of Korean folk and then just me. I wanted to go kinda early, and I don't know if it was just slow that night, if it picks up later, or just generally hit or miss. The thing I will tell you is that I got my own personal show (2, really - see above).

The first magician was Hun, and as with everyone there, his english was broken, but very understandable, and being a magician, I needed less setup than laypeople would. That said, he was very charming, funny and the show was good. Don't take this next statement wrong, because it was a very enjoyable show, but other than a couple of effects he did, I don't think the skill level there can hold a candle to many I've seen in the US and Canada (sorry - I've not seen any shows in Europe, so... ;-) I can spend 20 minutes with Kostya Kimlat, Gregory Wilson, Garrett Thomas or too many others to name, just with them messing around and not in "performance mode" and leave with jaw dropped open hanging. The show was entertaining which is the point of it all, but for pure magic skill, I'd give it a 5/10 (simple cups and balls, a cheapy-looking plastic nested boxes, another slip-tube stacking of Winnie the Pooh that sayd "Fun Magic" on the outside of the plastic tube is not what I would have expected in such an establishment.

The second guy was actually a student (Alexander is a teacher too, and this was one of this student's first performances.) He was a really nice guy. He actually did things that required more skill than the first. He did some very nice plot turns on a coin matrix and a few well executed card moves (meaning I knew the plot and what to expect, and his handling took it in another direction I'd not seen before - very nice).

All in all, it was a really nice evening, and I have no regrets in going. I'd recommend it to anyone going to Seoul. Don't expect Cyril or Bill Malone, and you'll realy enjoy yourself.
Dave



What's the difference between a magician and a deck of cards? A deck of cards has FOUR suits...
rhiro
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Southern California
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Thanks for the info. I'll be visiting South Korea in a week and will see if we can check out the Magic Bar. Sadly, I'm scheduled to return to the States Oct. 7th. (If only I knew about FISM Asia earlier. Doh!)

Anyone else have suggestions for good places to watch magic in South Korea? We'll be largely in Seoul and will also visit Jeju Island.

Ross
rhiro
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Southern California
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I'm back from my trip to Korea, and did experience Alexander's Magic Bar. I visited with my girlfriend, and our experience was similar to Dave's.

The price was still 20,000 Won per head. This puts the cost at well under $20 US at the time of our visit, 9/25/08. The dollar is stronger in Korea these days.

The place is, indeed, a bit hard to find. Fortunately, my girlfriend speaks Korean, so it was a simple matter of her phoning them up, getting directions, and following her lead. Getting there was a subway ride for us followed by a short walk through some dark streets. You definitely need to call them in advance and let them know you're visiting. I got the feeling they don't get a lot of visitors, and calling in advance allows them to make sure the talent will be there. We visited on a Thursday night, and the place was empty except for one other couple.

After being seated at the bar, we were each given a metal puzzle to wrestle with. After both of us failed to solve the puzzles (I hate those!), a magician stepped in to demonstrate how to solve these. He then returned them to us to let us struggle with them some more before solving them one last time, then getting on to the magic.

(Side note: What kind of message is sent by presenting puzzles to your spectators?)

We saw a couple of magicians, Chung Won Suk and a Mr. Hong, who liked to refer to himself as "Beef Hong." They were both proficient and entertaining. We later chatted with the bar owner, admired the autographed photos that grace the walls of the bar, and bumped into Charming Choi, who was there just hanging out. He was sessioning with a small group of magicians off to one side.

Before we left Alexander's, the bar had my girlfriend fill out a short form for the bar to keep on file. This was done so that the bar could track what magic we saw in the event we were to return at a later date.

I asked Choi about other places to see magic in Seoul, and he mentioned another magic bar called Trick Magic Bar (http://www.mtrick.co.kr). Unlike Alexander's Magic Bar, this place was easier to find. It was a few minutes walk from our hotel in Myeong-dong, and located off a major street, not some dark back alley. At 30,000 Won per head, it was pricier than Alexander's. This also gets you unlimited drinks, snacks, and two 15-20 minute performances.

The drill for Trick was similar to Alexander's. We called first to get directions, and to also find out our time slot. We showed up a few minutes early for our 10 p.m. appointment. A couple of Japanese ladies arrived shortly afterwards and joined us at the bar, then the magic began. Our two main magicians were "Suri" and "Ryo," who both did nice jobs. They were assisted by a lady named "Rusia" who provided Japanese translation. Much of the time the magicians were pattering in Korean, English, and Japanese. My girlfriend jumped in from time to time to provide translation for me, and it got a bit crazy at times, but this only added to the fun of it all. We snapped a few group pictures with the magicians and our fellow spectators and stayed a bit to talk shop with the magicians before leaving. The Trick folks gave us Polaroid shots for mementos.

When we first entered the bar, we were seated by a young man named "Bible." I asked him if he was a magician, and he answered that he's "a magician in training." In between Suri's and Ryo's acts, Bible jumped in to perform a single card trick for us. He did a well-done multi-phase routine with cards that magically moved between three piles of cards. He walked away with a big smile on his face, and congratulations from the more experienced magicians in the bar. Way to go!

I had a lot of fun at both bars, and hope to visit them again the next time I'm in Seoul.

Ross Hironaka
jcigam
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Bellevue, Nebraska
510 Posts

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I am getting ready to go to Korea (January) and this information is music to my ears. Does anyone know if there is a club out there? I am in the military so if there are any other military magicians stationed out there hit me up, I would love to get together.

Jered
"The mind has exactly the same power as the hand, not merely to grasp the world, but to change it."
Kevlar the Magnificent
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LI New York
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Jered,

The IBM has a ring that meets in Seoul.

I posted about my experience with the Alexander Bar about two years ago in this forum. I felt very welcome there, and they even asked me to perform behind the bar! I highly recomend to pay a visit when in town. It was hell to find, but worth it.

Sincerely,

Kevlar
jcigam
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Bellevue, Nebraska
510 Posts

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I made it to Korea!

It will be a few weeks before I can get out to the Alexander Bar but once I do, I will post my findings along with the others. I am sure my experience will be just as fun and rewarding.

Later,

Jered
"The mind has exactly the same power as the hand, not merely to grasp the world, but to change it."
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