You may take a subway to somewhere in Seoul, but you don’t normally take a ride to the station itself. Chungmuro station itself is, however, a destination for people of all ages and all walks of life who enjoy reading obscure foreign magazines and watching films; either classical or from the third world.
This is because inside the ticket barriers in the station building is a unique cultural center called Oh! Zemidong (roughly meaning five fun spaces), a home of five loosely combined floor spaces for the purpose of a library, a video room, a multi-purpose editing room, a small theatre and a resting floor. The first and most essential space that you face as you walk in is a library of various books and magazines.
Most of them are on film, music, media or other types of arts; all of the books are not easily found elsewhere. Some examples are “Woody on Allen” by Stig Bjorkman, “The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories” by Tim Burton and “Questions without Answers” by Duane Michaels. Some foreign magazines are also stocked such as Black & White Photography, Art in America, Ten Magazines and Wired. A jukebox in the corner is an excellent addition to the space.
The video room, the second space, is where you can appreciate old or unknown films on video or DVD; many of them are not available in Korea. This space is the most popular in the center so sometimes you might have to wait up to 30 minutes to watch a film. Some of the most famous classical films such as “All about Eve” by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and “Sunset Boulevard” by Billy Wilder are all here. But a visit to the center will sound more worthwhile when you realize that it provides Korean subtitles for films that have not been released in Korea.
Some of the works the center translated recently are “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” by Luis Bunuel, “The Flower of My Secret” by Pedro Albadovar and an Iranian documentary “House is Black” by Farrukhzad Furugh. The editing room, the third space, equipped with seven DV/SVHS video techs, Compaq workstations, RT2500 installed Premier and Photoshop, offers a chance to create your own work or to learn how to edit footage through its monthly educational programs at bargain rates.
The fourth space is a small theater which can accommodate up to 50 at any one time. Oh Zemidong hosts one or two screenings every month. In May, it screened a selection of films on India and the fickle nature of women. The last space is a raised floor for resting.
It is placed outside so you can share food and lively conversation with your friends or just sit around for a while. Just about everyone comes here to expose themselves to the uncommon media arts but sometimes you can spot the familiar looking faces of retired poets and directors who also visit the center for its rare collections.
Oh Zemidong is run by Seoul Film Commission in conjunction with Seoul City for the public welfare so most facilities can be used for free. The video room asks you to contribute 1,000 per viewing but this is not mandatory. The editing room is the only place you should pay to use; 1,000 won for the first two hours and 1,000 won for every hour thereafter.
Oh Zemidong is located on the first basement floor inside Chungmuro subway station. It is located behind the ticket barriers. Your subway ticket is valid for three hours, so if you want to stay longer you can return the subway ticket to the machine and show your membership card to the ticket official. It opens from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, call (02) 2273-2392 or visit www.ohzemidong.co.kr