Going to Gangnam

If you wanted to spend the rest of your life only at the Naver building, the Green Factory, you probably could. It has everything from a cafeteria to a place where you can buy insurance. There’s even a post office that you could use to send letters to your family telling them about how cool living at Naver is. 

Library at the Green Factory

The first thing we saw when we entered the Green Factory were boxes of bananas. It was a promotional event for their to-be opened store inside the building. We got free bananas and proceeded to where our speakers were waiting. 

There are many interesting systems that Naver is developing.

Kpop, or the Hallyu Wave, is on the rise, led by their main boy band, BTS. There are several features to highlight Kpop groups and other prominent celebrities, like VLive, which allows people to livestream while viewers can react with comments and hearts. Naver also has a video tracking technology that allows filming Kpop groups to be more individually focused, leading to fancams. There is also Line, which competes with the more well-known Messenger, in which groups can be formed to discuss anything. 

Many political debates that occur on American news channels are loud, hostile, and edged with tension as each speaker interrupts and talks over each other. This was highlighted when Naver demonstrated their technical ability to follow the lip movement of speakers and isolate the voice of one speaker at a time. We were shown a video before and after this audio isolation, and I have to say, it was a bit embarrassing to hear just how chaotic the discussions on our news channels can become. 

We then went throughout the building, and the most interesting thing I saw was their computer lab for disabled. There were computers and Naver constructed keyboards and devices allowing those without arms, fingers, and blind people to use the computers. 

Keyboard for those with disabilities, built by Naver

However, I think that Naver really has to work hard to diversify its workforce and enter more markets in order to compete with international firms like Google and YouTube. 

Our afternoon was unstructured, and the girls were treated to some delicious potato and pork soup by Dr. Yun. It was really really good, and eating the pork with my hands reminded me of how I would do that back home. 

For the rest of the day, I spent my time shopping, one of my favorite things to do in Korea because of how cute and fashionable things there are. In Insadong, I bought a bell made in Korea for my bell collection, and I got some gifts for my parents. I also discovered my favorite food in Insadong: Bungeo-ppang. It is absolutely yummy. It’s a fried pastry in the shape  of a fish, filled with a red bean paste or vanilla pudding/custard. The fried crispy goodness along with the not overly-sweet filling is absolutely perfect. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. 

I also visited the 1Million Dance Studio in Gangnam, and then we walked around there and got some delicious brown sugar boba-pearl milk tea. Today was a good day for food because later I got to taste a lot of street foods, like candied strawberries, while buying many other things like a Kermit toy wearing a Supreme shirt. 

Korean street food is delicious, and I will definitely miss it when I return to the states, where most of the food vendors only seem to sell unbelievably overpriced food that aren’t even worth their hefty price tag. 

Boba Tea!!!

In the meantime, I am set on buying Bungeo-ppang the next time I see it. 

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