[Life in Korea] Korean Movie Theaters: CGV, Megabox, Lotte Cinema

If you've never been to a Korean movie theater, I recommend trying it out one time. CGV, Megabox, Lotte Cinema are some of the bigger movie theater brands in Korea.

It is pretty different compared the experience at American theaters (I've only been to Korean and American movie theaters, but my European and Asian friends have all commented that it's different from what they are used to, too). Unlike at American theaters, you have to reserve seats. Which means it’s not a free for all for seats once you get into the theater.

To ensure you get a seat, especially at peak times, you should buy your seats online or through a mobile app. The problem I have had with this system is that they often ask for your registration number and sometimes, before I got my iPin, I had issues with registering because my name is so long. You can ask your Korean friend for help, if you have this same problem.
If you do not have a mobile app to reserve/purchase tickets, you need to go to either the computer kiosk or ticket office to purchase tickets/reserve your seats, but there may be no seats available. You can visualize which seats are available and if you can find seats next to your friends.

You have to choose between 2D, 3D, IMAX, and sometimes, at select theaters, 4D showings of your movie. Compared to the prices of new release movies in the United States, even in small towns, the prices in Korea are very cheap!!

Movies are usually around 9,000KRW (9USD) on weekends for regular 2D movies and for 3D, tickets are around 14,000KRW.

There are also different tiers of seats at some theaters. Sometimes, you can choose to have "table seating" for a premium price. My friend and I were excited because it seemed posh, but it was just one of those random things you pay for and reap barely any additional benefits. The "table" is basically an eight-inch bar upon which you can maybe put your soda, but it doesn't really fit your popcorn. It is at an awkward distance away from you. If you were truly using it as a table, you would likely have to sit at the edge of your seat and still have to lean over to reach your food.

For movie snacks, there is a wide variety of snacks you can try. There are some very Korean snacks (like roasted octopus, for example) and snacks that are more typical of American theaters. There's popcorn! But the popcorn is different here! They have the regular butter popcorn, but there are additional flavors also available. For example, you can get cheese popcorn or caramel popcorn, too! If you want to have two flavors in your popcorn tub, just say "ban ban," which means half-and-half, and your flavors. They will even separate the two flavors in your tub with a cardboard separator for you. The concessions prices are also quite inexpensive compared to the prices you find at theaters in the US. You can purchase soda or beer at Korean theaters, but usually only domestic beers FYI. There are also often other snacks (nachos, fries, hot dogs) and there are often cafes and other chain stores in the theater for you to eat. 

CGV just introduced “shake shake” popcorn. All the Korean foodies are going crazy about it and posting it everywhere! You get a bucket of popcorn, dome lid, and flavoring packets. You can season your own popcorn and shake it up. Sounds like fun to me.

After all that, you can finally enter the movie theater area. You have to show your ticket and then look for the corresponding theater number, then find your reserved seat. You're now ready for the show!

Your ticket will say something like:

4 4 G 9

is the number of theatre
is the floor
is the row
is the number seat

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