Koreans love going to the cinema. The best movie theaters in Seoul were always packed pre-COVID. Now many are closed, and a few that are open can barely fill half the seats. Will the movie-going experience in Korea survive post-COVID? Even the best movie theaters in Seoul face uncertainty as long as the Korean government bans large indoor gatherings. In addition, streaming services have changed the way movies are now released. Netflix, for example, is even streaming Korean dramas along with Korean films. Major movie theaters in Korea have taken a massive hit from 2020 to 2021, and with record COVID cases in 2022, change will not happen anytime soon. CGV, Megabox, and Lotte Cinema are not expecting revenues to recover to pre-pandemic levels maybe ever.
Also, there are no major movies being made in Korea or in Hollywood for people to watch. So there are no movies to promote, and no one knows when shootings will start. If the movie theater industry does not recover, more than 70% of theater jobs will be lost. This will be a huge blow to unemployment levels in Korea. Korea can’t afford to lose the economic, social, and cultural value that theaters provide. With the success of Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite, movie lovers all around the world were eager to see what great film could come out of Korea next. Now everything is on hold.
Will Movie Theaters in Seoul Survive?
When or if movie theaters in Seoul get back on track, their business model will have to change. We can see cinemas in Korea showing Kpop concerts, Esports, and sporting events that fans might enjoy watching on the big screen. When you add the coronavirus with the emergence of streaming services, it is hard to imagine things will go back to normal. The pandemic seems to have just accelerated changes that were already happening in the cinema industry. This is why some of the best movie theaters in Seoul could be shut down by the end of 2022.
The Best Movie Theaters in Seoul
Lotte Cinema at World Tower
Are you looking for the world’s largest screen? You heard that right….not the largest screen in Korea…but in the entire world. You can find it at Lotte World Tower in Jamsil, and it is called the Super Plex G. Lotte Cinema has gone into the Guinness World Records as having the world’s largest screen at 34 x 13.8m. The screen comes with 622 seats — the largest available number of seats for a screen, the Super Plex G looks like a two-story opera theater in appearance. The cinema will be in the largest building in South Korea, the World Tower which will stand 123 floors and 555 meters tall. The screen is not just huge but also has curved and tilted features that allow the viewers to experience the same level of brightness when watching the movies no matter where they are seated at the cinema.
Address: 300 Songpagu, Olympic-ro, Seoul
CGV at Yongsan
The CGV at Yongsan is located inside the iPark Mall shopping complex on the 6th and 7th floors. This CGV has IMAX and 4DX. The 4DX experience offers multi-directional sound, chair movement, extra light effects, wind-blowing, and water spraying. 4DX aims to enhance the on-screen visuals. Those that have yet to experience 4DX should check it out at Yongsan iPark Mall, which also offers shopping and a variety of restaurants.
Address: 55 Hangang-daero 23-gil, Hangangno 3(sam)-ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
CGV at YeongDeungPo
Next on our list is a CGV that is inside Times Square Mall in YeongDeungPo. They have the famous “Sweetbox” seats for a more intimate experience. Sweetbox is located in the last row of the theater. The sofas are red and can fit two people. It is very spacious, and moviegoers have the option to upgrade to a more luxurious leather sofa that comes with pillows and cushions. If you are looking for the full IMAX experience, this CGV has a huge 31.4 x 13m screen which is one of the largest in Korea. It is located in the Stadium theater which has 50 speakers. Some seats are outfitted with a vibrating sound system. Like MEGABOX, this CGV is located in a mall that allows viewers to shop or eat before or after their screening.
Address: 441-10, Yeongdeungpo-dong 4-ga, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul
CGV at WangSimNi
Near Hanyang University on Line 2, this CGV has it all. Most of the new movies whether it was made in Korea or Hollywood are available and they even offer 4D screenings. It is also home to one of the largest IMAX theaters. If you are going to watch a movie here in IMAX make sure to get rows J or K which offer the best viewing experience. The same can be said for all the theaters unless you like sitting in the back. It’s located on the 5th floor of Bitplex mall in Wangsimni which is right near the subway station which is an extra bonus.
Address: 168-1 Haengdang-dong, Seongdong-gu, Seoul
MEGABOX at COEX Exhibition Complex
The Megabox Cineplex is located in the COEX Mall. It has a total of 16 theaters, and the interior is stylish and luxurious. It is located between Jamsil and Gangnam in Samsung Station and offers many facilities and events. For example, they hold the “Mega European Film Festival” where Koreans have the opportunity to enjoy European movies they normally would not get to see.
The 4D movie theater “Megaride” is the main attraction of Megabit. Now granted Megabox does not offer huge screens like the others but what they lack in screen size they make up for their easy access to the restaurants and the cafes in the COEX shopping mall. It might get busy during holidays and weekends, so it is advised to get there early and buy your tickets before you do your shopping. Their concession stand is top-notch as well and reasonably priced.
Address: 511, Yeongdong-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
CGV at CheonHo
The first branch to offer SphereX Technology. Sphere-X brings into focus the three main parts of watching a movie at a theater and includes the Screen, Sound, and Seat. The Sphere-X concept is a concept of curved space cinema that explores the collaboration between the fields of the curved screen with sound technology, the curved shape of the screen allows the reflection of sounds collected and produces clearer sound for the audience. The curved screen itself is huge, as big as a basketball court, the sound generates as many as 60 speakers, and the seats can recline up to 45 degrees.
Address: 4f 1571, Yangjae-Daero, Gangdong-Gu, Seoul
Phone: +82 2 3424 1622