Anonymous of Holland            -A Dutchman in Korea-

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Geeking out in Daegu

Although the undisputed capital of nerdism in Korea is, as you would expect, Seoul, that doesn’t mean you’re forced to travel all the way over there to get your fix if you happen to be visiting other parts of the country such as our wonderful city of Daegu.
Sure, you have to search a little bit (okay, honestly, quite a bit) harder and what you get is a little bit less impressive, but it is still totally possible to get your weekly dose of plastic crack right here in town.
You just need to know where to look.
And that’s where we come in.

I’ll tell you all about all the nerd-approved places in Daegu that I know of, so grab a pen and take some notes!

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First on our list is also the easiest to find: 피규어 스토리 (Figure Story) in Banwoldang station.
It’s not a huge store, but it makes up for its lack of space by stacking everything from the floor straight up to the ceiling.

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The entire place is covered in Figma, Nendoroids, SEGA Prize Figures, Figurines and Gashapon from a wide variety of popular and less popular anime. Prices aren’t always too hot, but if you’re desperate for some figures you can’t find online anymore, it’s definitely worth a look.

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Then we have one of the biggest, if not the biggest, nerd store in Daegu: Gundam Base. Located right around the corner of Kyobo book store downtown, it’s easy to miss if you’re not looking up while looking for your robots.

Did you catch it? It’s right there next to the giant Burger King sign.

For some reason or another the store clerks didn’t want us taking pictures inside since we’d be writing in our ‘official capacity’ so if you want to see pictures you’ll have to head over to my personal blog, but I can still at least explain to you what the general deal of this place is. And the general deal is..basically..Gundam Paradise.

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The store is huge, sporting rows upon rows of Gundam kits in all sizes and at all price points. There’s starter kits for under 10,000 or professional ones that go for over ₩800,000, so whatever you’re looking for you’re bound to find it here. They also have a small selection of non-Gundam figures such as Kamen Rider FiguArts and a few Figma, but overall this place is for real gunpla fanatics. The prices are on point, being an official Gundam store, and as I said the selection (when it comes to Gundam) is without equal. As an added bonus, the store also features a building area where you can watch the various Gundam anime while you build the kit you just bought in a Gundam themed room.

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Plus, if I understood correctly, if you buy certain models and show them to the staff after you’ve bought and built them, you’ll get some sort of collectible card that you can hoard like the nerd that you are.

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Interestingly enough there is more good news for people who are into plamo: 하비랜드, also found downtown but expertly hidden near exit 3 of the Jungangno subway station, is another store with a large selection of plastic models.

It’s almost as if they don’t want you to even see this place. The entrance is the door under that red banner there.

Unlike Gundam Base, it doesn’t specialize in giant robots only, so you can pick up models from Western Sci-Fi movies to historically accurate tanks and helicopters and awesome looking Sci-Fi anime starships. Its non-plamo inventory is also nothing to scoff at, being the only store that I’ve found carrying even Revoltechs of Western characters.

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This place is a real hobby store, and aside from all the models and action figures, they also sell the tools you’ll need to build them. Paint, Gundam Markers, pencils, brushes, x-acto knives, sprue cutters, tweezers and more can all be found here so you can get everything you need to start building all in one place. To be honest, I’ve already visited there several times since we did our ‘research’ for this article because the place is just so damn cool, the owner is so nice and I just can’t imagine them getting all that much business being as hidden as this.

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This awesome Keroropla was subsequently ruined by my terrible panel lining. Plamo is hard…

As the cherry on top, prices here are actually lower than at Gundam Base and even lower than Gmarket, which kinda blew my mind since it’s probably the first time I’ve seen things cheaper in a store than online. I know all of this sounds like the biggest amount of shilling ever but man, they’re not even paying me to say this, it’s just that nice.

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Anyway, moving on from the world of plastic crack and into the world of…a different kind of plastic crack…there’s one more store that I’d like to tell you guys about. Unfortunately the owner of this place also didn’t want us taking pictures (probably because his store looks like an actual crack den) but as before I’ll tell you about it anyway.

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See that bright blue sign up there in the distance? That’s the only way you’ll find this place. (Also, that District restaurant in front of it seemed like a really nice place)

Tucked away behind the Daegu City Center not too far from Jungangno station is a store called 미카엘 (Mikael), part of a franchise (I think?) called Vanguard that sells card games. It started as a Yu Gi Oh store, but has branched out to include Magic cards, and being the only store in the entirety of Daegu (and surroundings) to offer these things they naturally became the hub of card nerd activity. They hold weekly tournament events where you can play against other (Korean and foreign) players and even win some cards, and although the selection isn’t as wide as what you might be used to, the newer cards are always easily available and any exotic needs you have can be met by simply asking the owner to order the decks that you need.

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But what do you do when your wallet is as flat as mine and you can’t afford to splurge on your hobbies for a while?
How about marveling at someone else’s collection instead of increasing the size of your own?
Figure cafés are a pretty unheard of concept back at home (probably due to the lack of actual nerds) but extremely popular in Japan and also not unseen in Korea. I’ve only managed to find two such places here in Daegu, but I wouldn’t rule out the chances of there being more.

Either way, the first café we visited is 틈사이로 나는 커피향기 (literally ‘Coffee fragrance coming through the cracks’), a quaint little café far away from the busy downtown area near Jincheon subway station.

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From outside, it looks just like any other one of the millions of cute cafés that litter Korean streets, but once you step inside you’ll see what makes this place different.

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Aside from the warm and comfortable atmosphere, you’ll probably notice the large amount of figurines displayed tastefully on all sides of the small café. When we sat down with the owner and asked him how he came to the decision of opening a Figure café, he said it hadn’t always been like this. At first he ran just a regular coffee place, but as his collection of figurines grew and grew at his home he decided to move some of his collection to his café. It started with one display case, but of course, as collectors know, that one case turned into two, and those two turned into three and so on and so forth until he was the owner of an actual Figure café. He doesn’t have any illusions when it comes to his collection; he said the addition of all these figures is more for his own pleasure than anything else. It’s not like it has affected business in any way.

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There are cases however, where figures can make the difference, and this is true for the project of love by another Daegu collector, called CW (or Cinema World). Cho Woong, the owner of CW (see what he did there?), says in this interview that he started collecting after falling in love with Star Wars when he was a child and just hasn’t really stopped since then. And instead of keeping his giant collection locked up in his home, he has decided to share it with the world in what is apparently (I’m gonna have to take the other sources’ word for it) the only Figure restaurant/museum in all of Korea.
I was lucky enough to have dinner there on my birthday (curtsy of my wonderful girlfriend) and experienced first hand the reason why this place is worth traveling to even though it’s pretty far away from everything else.

Firstly, considering how fancy this place is, the prices are pretty good. And for pretty good prices, the food tastes really good. Obviously you are in Korea though, so you can get delicious food anywhere, but tell me where else can you eat that delicious food while a 1:1 replica of Tobey McGuire’s Spider-Man looks over your shoulder, or a cut section of the Millennium Falcon and LEGO recreation of the Emperor’s landing on the second Death Star glimmer next to your plate, or 1:1 busts of Boba Fett, Captain America and Elsa look over you?

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That alone would be enough to warrant a trip to this awesome restaurant, but what’s on the third floor is even more interesting: the bulk of Cho Woong’s figure and prop collection.
Featuring figures from franchises like Star Wars (including 1:1 replicas of C-3PO and R2D2, Yoda, Watto and a whole slew of 1:1 lightsabers and busts), Marvel (including not one but two 1:1 Wolverine and Hulk busts, several limited edition full body figures and a replica Wolverine jacket), Robocop, The Nightmare before Christmas, etc, a beautiful Alien/Predator collection case and a group of life sized Terminators with glowing eyes making up the centerpiece of the room this place is a must see for any nerd who doesn’t mind knowing he’ll never be able to afford any of this.

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So all in all there’s definitely no lack of interesting places to nerd out in in Daegu.
It might not be Seoul, but what Daegu lacks in quantity it makes up for in heart.

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This entry was posted on 17 May 2015 by in Korea and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

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