Besides it’s amazing natural beauty and outdoor hiking trails, Jeju Island is also famous for it’s many museums and theme parks around the island. One of its most recent attractions is the new exhibition hall, Hello Kitty Island. A new complex built to indulge in the ultra-cute world of Sanrio’s most beloved character…Hello Kitty! I first heard of the place two years ago when I spotted it on Instagram. As fate would have it, I was going to spend a weekend in Jeju….and Hello Kitty Island was on top of my to do list!
What is it?
Hello Kitty Island is a new concept created by Sanrio for fans and customers to enjoy a new type of exhibition of Hello kitty. Playing on Jeju Island’s growing popularity as a rather romantic destination and hot spot in Asia, they decided to build a new place for indulgence and enjoyment for tourists.
Hello Kitty Island is a 3-storey exhibition styled complex devoted to the growth and development of Hello Kitty. From lifestyle interior concepts, play rooms, movies and at installations, the Hello kitty island offer everything under one pink roof.
Where is it?
So Jeju Island isn’t exactly small, and in my previous post you will have rely on public transport or rent a car. I was foolish and took a cab. Hello Kitty Island is really far from the main city and a one way cab ride can cost you about KRW 30 000 (US$30)! This is fine if you are sharing, but I was alone as I nobody else I knew was interested in visiting this magnificent site of culture.
There is a bus going down this highway, but then you will still have to take a cab to eventually get there. In this case, you will also need a phone.
Hello Kitty Island is really in an awkward spot. I’m not sure why they put it in the middle of the island besides the mountains on a highway. I think a spot near the beach would have been more fitting in any case.
The complex resembles a pink cushioned jewellery box and stands out amongst the lush green vegetation of the island. On entering you are greeted by a large Hello Kitty shaped door, through the door you are overwhelmed by a looming Hello Kitty doll tree that goes right up to the 3rd floor. Behind the tree, you enter her home.
Hello Kitty over the years
The first hallway you enter will show you the development of the character over the years. The room showcases some of its first products and merchandise form the 1970s and how it has grown into an international brand since then.
Every year Hello Kitty has a theme, and through that theme numerous merchandise is sold and marketed. Themes range from Hello Kitty’s water adventures, then her farming attempt at growing perfect tomatoes to her more romantic silhouette edition. It also showcases her famous collaboration with various fashion brands. These themes also come with new design styles which will be incorporated into her collection of the year on whatever products they create.
We are also shown a timeline of her friends, or Sanrio’s other popular characters who have joined in over the years.
There was also this really cool hologram machine of Hello Kitty and her family.
Good Morning Hello Kitty!
In the next room we enter a part of Hello Kitty’s house. We find statues and photos of the family throughout the room. The room is based on the original cartoon and tries to take you through the daily life of Hello Kitty at home.
Out and About with Kitty
Out of the cosy home you are taken to a room that is created to show the busy street where Hello Kitty and her friends venture out into in the cartoon world. First you can catch the bus at the giant apple-shaped bust stop. Inside the bus you can take a seat or hold onto the Hello kitty hand rungs while a screen shows you scenes from different stops along the route in the town.
Hello kitty Loves reading and art
Your next stop is an installation of a library. In the 80s Hello Kitty promoted reading and books to inspire young children to indulge in literature.
There is a cool interactive room where you can create various patterns using Hello kitty designs and images through touch screens.
After that, they offer some art activities for kids in the Hello kitty Art School.
There’s also a dance room , where you can learn and follow Hello Kitty’s latest dance moves accompanied with an upbeat song. The room was well decorated with strobe and neon lights adorning the space.
As you walk past the giant Hello Kitty tea cups, you will ascend to the adventure themed rooms. Along the way there will be posters showing Hello Kitty’s various cartoons and yearly themes through bright and colourful illustrations.
The forest of emotions
These brightly decorated rooms try to recreate a fantasy adventure concept of Hello Kitty’s world through fairy tales and myth. Starting with her story “down the rabbit hole”, we get to look inside her version of a wonderland filled with trippy castles, tea time, star constellations and a romantic fountain.
One of the interesting installation is the Forest of Emotions, where the characters are placed between tree silhouettes with changing colours in a dark room. See the video for the changing colours.
Sailing the skies
This adventure room is connected to the current 3-d film that is being played in the theatre. Hello Kitty and friends go into another dimension aboard a pirate ship. They sail through the body of a whale and they encounter the Little Twin stars. In this room, you can put you head in the whale’s belly and walk into a giant star. Pressing the lit up buttons reveal various constellations of your favourite characters.
But is it art?
After this room, you will be led through exhibition rooms displaying Hello Kitty through modern art. There are some interesting pieces that question and challenge her identity and her role in consumerist culture.
Out of the museum you get to walk through a room devoted to Hello Kitty décor and it’s great for photo opportunities. This is major décor goals as far as I’m concerned.
There’s also a fun play area for kids with everything themed with our favourite cat!
Hello Kitty Café Time
After all the rooms, you are led to the famous Hello Kitty Café. This one is really big and offers amazing views of the island.
Hugs with Hello Kitty
At around 5 pm, Hello Kitty makes an appearance for some cute photo opportunities. To be honest, the complex was rather empty due to the lack of tourists, so there was no line. The staff are kind enough to take a photo for you with Kitty.
There’s a gift shop on exiting the complex. I just bought my magnet souvenirs. I got the Hello Kitty Jeju edition with Hello Kitty as Mount Halla Kitty, Hello kitty as a Jeju orange (as Jeju is famous for its orange farms) and Hello kitty riding the famous black Jeju piggy.
What a day
This place is big, and there’s lots to see. Luckily there was hardly anybody when i went, Getting home is a bit tricky without a car, but if you need to take a cab the staff kindly call one for you. Hello Kitty Island is a must for anyone who loves the world of pop culture and cute.
Hello Kitty is always fun!
Here’s a short video clip of the amazing Hello Kitty Island: