Day Trip to Seoul: Insadong

by Chihon Kim
Photos by Chihon Kim

Insadong Street has roots dating back to the 16th century and originally was a residential area. However, during the Japanese colonial period and beyond the Korean War, it became a place where artists gathered and people came to buy and sip tea.

Since the 1988 Seoul Olympics, this area has become a traditional heart of Seoul. Renovated in 2000, this hip and happening place is full of craft and tea shops, traditional food and clothing shops, art galleries and countless restaurants and food stands.

The charm of Insadong can be felt from the moment you step foot into one of the many narrow alleys that stretch out like a tree branch from the main street. It’s like you’re on a treasure hunt. You might find a hidden restaurant or shop that catches your eye when you step into a small alley.

Unlike the refined appearance of the main street, food joints and tea shops in antique buildings (many look like old homes) are hidden inside the alleys. The district also has museums devoted to Kimchi and traditional tea. Great places for foreigners to learn more about Korean culture.

The easiest way to get to this street is by getting off at Anguk Station on Subway Line 3, Exit #6.  Once you get off the subway, you can easily find the information center for tourists. (You can’t miss it!) But Exit #6 is not the only way to Insadong. If you get off at Jonggak Station, line 1, exit #3, you will walk by a crafts shop that sells clocks made of melted recycled bottles. Very cool and perfect for a gift for a family member or friend.

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