The aquarium is fairly similar to any regional aquarium. There were tanks set aside for touching the sea stars, but no one monitored the touch tanks. I noticed that some didn’t know how to handle them, so a couple had died. In the U.S., people monitor the touch tanks, and animals are rotated in and out every few hours so that they aren’t stressed out. Koreans are not very knowledgeable about animal safety. The U.S. is very strict due to political groups like PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
The more interesting features of the aquarium are the Korean peninsula fish, endemic to the country, and a tank with river otters that really amused my aunt. They have an undersea tunnel with a moving walkway which takes you through 2,000 tons of sea water. The tank is filled with mostly sharks, but you can see other marine life, too. The most original feature was the artistically designed fish tanks. There are some creative artists in Korea who decided to go beyond the typical aquarium for the home. Obviously, the displays were more artistic than practical, but I did wonder if some of the artwork could be bought for a person to use at home. If you get hungry, a cafe serves snacks. There's a couple of sit-down restaurants, too. I ended up getting a green tea soft-serve cone for 2,000 won. I noticed others who were eating stuff on a stick. It looked like the typical Korean snack, those bean-cake patties pressed into a hot dog shape. They are the same things that come in a soup, but they are fried and shoved on a stick in this case. Sort of reminded me of a corn dog, but it’s NOT. The whole aquarium should only take about 2 hours. If you go around 1:30pm, the sharks are being fed. I think they also feed the piranha around 2pm, but I don’t quite recall. You can always call ahead to find out if you speak Korean (02-6002-6200). Good luck if you don’t. There are plenty of signs in English, explaining the marine life, but none of them make any sense. Koreans are terrible at English, so don’t expect to go to Korea and have a good time if you don’t speak the language. Speaking Korean is a must. If you don’t speak the language, make sure you find yourself a translator or a tour guide.
by E. B.
January 6, 2006
From journal Going Back to Seoul