Shopping till you drop at Gimpo AirportNot long ago, before Incheon International Airport took its place as Korea’s gateway to the world, Gimpo Airport was swarmed by travelers jetting to and from places far and wide.
Now, what was once the second international terminal at Gimpo is a destination for the shopping masses, in its reincarnation as the Sky City Mall.
This complex is home to a cinema multiplex and a convention center that also serves as a wedding hall, as well as restaurants and retail outlets selling clothes, electronics, household appliances, music and books.
Nor is that the end of the consumerist experience at Gimpo. In addition to the mall, there’s a massive discount store, with a video gaming center, home furnishing outlets and a variety of other shops in the same building.
You can even come to the airport to have your pet’s illness seen to. Or to play video games. Or to practice your golf swing. Or to do all of that in a single day. If Gimpo can no longer bring the world to Korea, at least it can bring a bunch of shoppers to Gimpo.
One of Sky City Mall’s prime features is the CGV Airport 9 cinema complex, which has nine theaters with a total seating capacity of 1,841. The multiplex targets young moviegoers, with half the seats “love seats” for couples. On the mall’s second floor, the Techno Sky City Restaurant must be one of the city’s few second-floor restaurants that offer a decent view of a sunset. Other restaurants in the mall accommodate airport-goers’ tastes for Korean, Chinese and Japanese food.
Third-floor facilities at Sky City Mall include after-service centers for companies such as Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and Pantech, and about 100 stores specializing in cellular phones.
The facilities in the convention center on the fourth floor, which can be used for weddings, include one large banquet hall that can accommodate 700, four smaller halls that can fit 300 to 400 people each, and three small halls that can accommodate about 50 people each.
Families who rent the halls for weddings pay for the meals, with no additional charges. Couples who get married there are offered an additional perk, if they can use it: a free limousine ride to Incheon International Airport, Gimpo’s usurper in the gateway-to-the-world department.
The shopping at Gimpo doesn’t stop with the repurposed international terminal. At the airport’s domestic terminal, the third and fourth floors are home to a variety of stores. A store called Look at Use carries 20 luxury brands, including Gucci, Armani, Etro and Ferragamo. For international travelers, the products are tax-free.
If you’re not that interested in shopping, you can always work on your drive. Club-toting businessmen en route to one of Korea’s courses for the weekend can kill a couple hours before the flight at the 8,000-pyeong (6.5-acre) facility known as Sky City Pajero Golf Town, which contains Korea’s longest driving range (330 yards), not to mention saunas. Both the range and the saunas are open 24 hours.
Does the fun stop there, you ask? It does not. The airport also boasts an E-Mart, Korea’s largest discount store. Twice as long as a soccer field, the three-story building in which the store is located is also home to a stationery shop, an animal hospital ― why not? ― an automotive center, a child photo shop and two home furnishings stores, one of which, Casamia, has 20 themed showrooms.
On the third floor is a 400-pyeong game center, designed in collaboration with the Japanese game company Taito. E-Mart offers the exhausted parent a playroom for children, a “baby lounge” and a nursing room. And not far from E-Mart, finally, is ― don’t even guess, you’ll be wrong ― Wooridul Hospital, specializing in spinal treatment. It has 30 beds for patients and four operating rooms.
The airport has 8,000 parking spaces; a variety of parking discounts are available to shoppers. From Gimpo Airport station on subway line No. 5, free shuttle buses go to the airport terminals. For more information on the buses, go to www.sky-city.co.kr.
by Hong Joo-yun