Going to a 영화관 in Korea is not unlike going to a movie theater in another country, but the experience of going to a Korean movie theater is what makes it unique. Most of the HUGE multiplexes like CGV, Lotte Cinema, Megabox, Primus, and Cinus have state-of-the-art facilities with wide-screens and the ability to show 3-D and 4-D movies. There are even a few Lotte and CGV theaters in Seoul and Busan that offer 외국어 자막(foreign subtitling)! However, if you’re looking for a more intimate 영화관 setting, the smaller and independently owned 영화관들 have a little bit of a “retro” feel since they don’t have all the hype and bright lights of a gigantic multiplex.
How to purchase tickets
On the weekdays, you’ll be able to purchase 영화 표(movie tickets) by standing in line at the ticket booth (if the theater has one) or by using one of the automatic ticket machines. And you can also use the online 예약(reservation) system or a cell phone application to reserve your tickets and seats, which is the most convenient way to make sure you and your friends will have tickets!
It’s HIGHLY recommended to purchase your tickets in advance using the theater’s online reservation system if you’re going to see a movie on 금요일(Friday) or 토요일(Saturday) nights or during holidays. Crowds are HUGE during these times and, more than likely, your show will be sold out if you wait until the last minute to get tickets. To use the online reservation system, visit one of the websites listed at the bottom of this post to purchase your tickets at the theater of your choosing. You can also use one of the automated ticket machines, but don’t bank on there being ANY open seats! If you’re going to a smaller theater, you may be able to get away with purchasing some tickets from a ticket booth or the ticket machines on the day of the showing.
One thing you might want to note to yourself is that, for foreigners, there might be some difficulties when you use the online reservation system or a mobile application because sometimes they might ask for your 주민등록번호 (resident registration number). In that case, you can ask your Korean friend to let you use his/her resident registration number or you can always go to the theater and buy your ticket there.
Ticket 가격(prices) in Korea are universally set, so they’re pretty comparable to any other country’s ticket price. Here’s an outline of some basic movie prices:
* Regular movies
성인(Adult): 8,000원 (on Fri, Sat, Sun, and public holidays: 9,000원)
조조(Matinée) (Morning movies): 5,000원
심야(Late night) movies (12am-5am): 6,000원
Matinée (Morning movies): 8,000원
Cinema Websites (and other helpful stuff!)
If you want to download cell phone applications to reserve tickets, search “CGV 영화예매”, “맥스무비 영화예매”, “티켓플래닛”, “롯데시네마 예매 시스템”, or any other theater in the marketplace or app store. As for “티켓플래닛”, you can get discounts up to 2,500원 per ticket, but only if you pay the 550원 monthly surtax.
You can also dial “1330” from any phone (if you’re using a cell phone, dial your area code first!) to find out show times, locations of movies, and instructions on how to get to the cinema all in English. The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) hot-line operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is a REALLY useful service for foreigners! If you’re not sure about your area code, visit this website to find it:
If you have any questions about going to see movies in Korea, please give us a shout on our Facebook page (facebook.com/talktomeinkorean), Twitter (twitter.com/ttmik), or leave a comment in the comment section below and we’ll do our best to answer!
Written by: Stephanie Morris
Photos by: Hyunwoo Sun