Cover Wonderbox, a family-centric recreational centre at Paradise City

Here are the must-see venues of integrated resort Paradise City, which features a hotel featured in the Netflix hit series, ‘Single’s Inferno’

This story was first published on November 26, 2018 and updated on 14 January, 2022.

The next time you’re on a flight to Seoul, keep an eye out for a golden spot before you land at the Incheon International Airport. Visible from aerial view, the distinctive golden circle marks the entrance of the Chroma nightclub at the Paradise City integrated resort in Incheon, South Korea. Designed by Amsterdam-based firm MVDRV, the club at Paradise City, forms part of the resort’s ambitious plans for its art and design-driven concept. “Passengers in the incoming aircraft can already see this ‘sun’ from above the ocean, as a kind of welcome to South Korea,” says Winy Maas, principal and co-founder of MVRDV.

The hotel was also featured on the Netflix hit series Single's Inferno, which aims to pair young and eligible Korean bachelors and bachelorettes. It's a dreamy setting where coupled contestants go to get to know each other more; the glamorous hotel has also been well-received by viewers and contestants alike for its luxurious interiors, plush beds, and excellent room service.

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First opened in April 2017, the Paradise City integrated resort is a US$1.7 billion (approximately S$1.81 billion) joint investment between Korean hospitality group Paradise Group and Japanese entertainment enterprise Sega Sammy.

“We believe that art should be accessible,” explains Elizabeth Chun, vice president and chief design officer of Paradise group. “You can stay for a weekend, or visit Paradise City during your transit and be exposed to over 3,000 artworks.”

The sprawling site presently features two hotels, a casino, concert venues, a water park and myriad facilities which include the newly opened Paradise Art Space. Altogether, 12 local and international firms came on board to design and realise the integrated resort’s multi-faceted concepts.

“We call them our Avengers,” she quips, referring to the team of superheroes in the film and Marvel comic series. “We try to work with firms that are more flexible, who can adopt our needs to assimilate more Korean culture into their work.”

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The art-influenced direction of the resort was inspired by the Paradise group’s extensive private collection and its philanthropic cultural initiatives since the seventies. “We have a solid collection started by my father-in-law, Rak-won Chun, and have been supporting Korean artists for over 30 years,” shares the vice president, who is married to the group’s incumbent chairman Phillip Chun. 

The collection was first started by the group’s late chairman Rak-won Chun, an ardent supporter of the arts whom acquired a wide array of modern art by local talents as well as international artists; the group also founded the Kaywon Sculpture Art College (now Kaywon School of Art and Design) and published a literary magazine featuring the works of Korean authors.

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Chun sees Paradise City as an extension of the company’s artistic roots and a way to promote Korean art to local and international visitors. She recalls visiting Paradise Hotel Busan, the group’s oceanfront resort property first built in the eighties that embraced an earlier version of its art-inspired concept. “From the start we had artworks displayed throughout the Busan hotel and that was really a sensation in the eighties,” she shares. “But the artworks were playing a role of decoration.” This drove the desire to make art the central focus of Paradise City, while creating a thematic concept unique to the integrated resort. 

At Paradise City, art comes to the fore with dedicated venues including the Paradise Art Space and the adjacent Paradise Plaza—a voluminous space that embodies the group’s lofty plans for its art-driven concept. Designed by Hawkins Brown Architects, the indoor plaza draws architectural cues to the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, which Chun recalls visiting with her husband.

“We would walk around and notice that all the good things happen in the plaza, all the entertainment,” says Chun. “So we wanted to bring that concept (to Paradise City), you’ll see a lot of resemblance in architecture.” Restaurants and a shopping mall will soon open in buildings adjacent to the art space, with the plaza serving as a multi-purpose social hub.

The group roped in Italian architect and designer Alessandro Mendini to dress its hotel interiors, while integrating its diverse art collection throughout the property. Medini has decorated spaces with playful flourishes, ranging from the jungle theme of the family-friendly facilities in Paradise Hotel, the origami-like roof louvres that float above the Paradise Plaza to the inclusion of a colourful, oversized Proust chair situated at its ballroom wing.

Designed by Medini, this edition of the iconic Proust chair has been covered in myriad patterns inspired by traditional patchwork quilts, while being the perfect embodiment of what the resort hopes to achieve: to bring together its European influences with elements of Korean style. Chun likens it to a creative patchwork: “It represents our theme of adopting different cultures.”

Other facilities include Wonderbox, a family recreational park housed in a building that features a surreal, gravity-defying facade that appears to float in mid-air. Located next to the Chroma nightclub, Wonderbox was designed by MVRDV to house a family-friendly theme park. Opened in 2019, the venue will feature various rides including a Ferris wheel, merry-go-round and carnival games.

The next phase of the property will see a shopping mall, a hotel, and other facilities being gradually unveiled, along with future plans for a hanok museum that would celebrate traditional Korean architecture. The resort will also continue to host visiting international artists, such as American artist Jeff Koons who graced the 2018 exhibition vernissage at the opening of the Paradise Art Space.

The ultimate goal is to turn Paradise City into a multi-faceted destination that brings together all elements of Korean culture, from art to pop music. “We think it’s the perfect timing for Korea to present such a concept, to introduce Korean art to the world,” shares Chun. 

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