Arriving late at night in bustling downtown Seoul, Alexander kicks off his epic Korean adventure in Gangnam, the fabled district immortalised by Psy’s Gangnam Style video - the most viewed song on YouTube.
Gangnam is where Seoul’s ‘fast and furious’ like to hang out, purring down the main drag in their supercars, serenaded by the booming beats of the 24-hour stores and bars. Alexander soaks up the buzz before calling it a night.
Taking in the stunning views from the Namsang Tower, Alexander marvels at the Seoul cityscape, home to 26 million Koreans. That’s half the population of the whole country, which is smaller than England but whose influence stretches worldwide.
Helping to keep modern Korea on the global map are its YouTube stars, and Alexander wolfs down noodles with Heebab, a record-breaking Mukhbang ‘bulk-eater’, and meets Korean Billy, whose English accent impersonations are an online sensation, washed down with tea from a toilet-shaped mug in an outrageous poo-themed café.
Then, Alexander is granted every K-Pop fan’s ultimate wish, meeting the band hotly tipped to be South Korea’s next K-Pop megastars: Stay-C. Winners of numerous Korean TV awards, Stay-C have been years in the making and training — and are now one of the most popular girl bands in Korea.
They share their secrets with Alexander, giving him a nickname in the band’s tradition and the inside track on how to dance like a K-Pop superstar. Escaping the bustle of Seoul, Alexander finds an altogether different place — a spectacular monastery where Koreans explore the experience of leaving this earth.
At the Death Experience School, Alexander is given his own coffin as he contemplates his own life — and death. A hugely emotional and personal experience, any scepticism is immediately banished.
Returning to Gangnam, Alexander finds himself at a tower full of plastic surgery clinics. Korean men are increasingly embracing both surgery and make-up.
Here, he also learns the inside secrets of the K-Pop stars look, before he gets the chance to record a song with a top producer. And meeting up with the friends he has made in Seoul, he tests out his talent at a noraebang — a Korean karaoke room
Alexander Armstrong In South Korea airs Tuesday 1st November on Channel 5.