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Insa-dong

My favourite place in Seoul? Absolutely Insadong 인사동. Located nearby Bukchon Hanok Village and Samcheondong, Insadong 인사동 is another centre of traditional Korean arts. Here, I could find various Korean traditional souvenirs, antiques, pottery, calligraphy and other artistic pieces of art that I could not find in Seoul’s modern districts. Art galleries and traditional tea houses add to the interest of the area.

insadong4

Although most visitors are foreigners, locals still coming here to look for traditional crafts, chill out at Insadong‘s unique cafe or simply to take a walk. What I noticed here, cosmetic shops names here are written in hangul (korean alphabets) since it is a very traditional and cultural area. Not only Korean brands, such as Etude House or Nature Republic, even international brand such as Starbucks too…

Shops names written in hangul

Shops names written in hangul

Another popular shop at Insadong, 'swirling ice cream cone'

Another popular shop at Insadong, ‘swirling ice-cream cone’

Things that I like to do when coming to Insadong 인사동 besides looking for artsy stuffs, are to eat their street food! Definitely hotteok 호떡 is a must to have here.. Hotteok 호떡 is a Korean street food snack made of dough and is usually filled with sugar, honey, nuts and cinnamon. There is a famous hotteok 호떡 stall in Insadong where people are willing to queue for it. It is located at the main street and the shop name is Sambodang 삼보당.

There are sweet hotteok 호떡 and japchae hotteok 잡채호떡. Japchae hotteok 잡채호떡 maybe similar to the sweet hotteok 잡채호떡, but the filling is japchae 잡채 (stir-fried glass noodle). It may seem to be a funny combination, but to my surprise, it tastes good! Compared to the sweet one, Japchae hotteuk 잡채호떡 is a rare find. There are a few shops selling around Samcheondong area and Insadong 인사동 (near Anguk subway exit).

Sambodang Hotteok 삼보당 호떡

Sambodang Hotteok 삼보당 호떡

Japchae Hotteok 잡채호떡

Japchae Hotteok 잡채호떡

Coming to Insadong 인사동 means you have to visit Ssamziegil 쌈지길.  It is marked as the ‘Special Insadong 인사동 within Insadong 인사동’. This unique area was designed in such a way by connecting its charming alleys in the form of a spiral-like stairway towards the open Sky Garden where you can get a clear view of Insadong. Along the way to the top, you can window shop through the small business stores owned by young-established artisans.

Ssamziegil

Ssamziegil 쌈지길

One of the alleys towards towards the open Sky Garden

'Poop' cake. Cute cake with red bean filling in the shape of poop

‘Poop’ cake at Ssamziegil. Cute cake with red bean filling in the shape of poop.

Insadong 인사동 has a lot more to offer. Traditional korean restaurant where you have to sit on the tatami floor and dining on a low table, looking for souvenirs and antiques, handmade goods, museums and the list goes on… It is where one can forget the modern city life and immerse in a traditional Korean culture.

How to go there:

To Insadong:

  •  Take subway to Anguk Station 안국역  (Line 3, orange line) take exit #6. Walk straight from the exit and take a turn left after 3 minutes walking. You will reach Insadong gate; or,
  • Take subway to Jonggak Station (Line 1, dark blue line) and take exit #3. Keep walking for about 300m, and turn left at the 4-way Intersection. Go straight for about 100m and take the left road towards Insadong-gil Road.

To Ssamziegil:

  • Anguk Station (Line 3, orange line), take exit #6. Walk toward Jongno Police Station and enter the Insadong one-way street of Crown Bakery & GS25, and go straight for about 100m; or
  • Jonggak Station (Line 1, Exit 3). Go towards Jogyesagil (pass 2 signals) and enter the alley next to the 7th Day Sabbath Church.

 

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We went to Insadong after our trip to Namsangol Hanok Village since it is nearby.

Insadong is a very artistic place. When I first step in, I could feel the mix atmosphere of traditional yet modern Seoul. There are a lot of souvenirs shop and most of the items sold are those very Korean traditional style and uniquely artistic. You may not be able to find some of the items in other shopping places.

We stopped by to have our lunch here. After looking around at a few restaurant here, we decided to go into a small restaurant and  ordered Kimchi Jigae (김치 찌개) and Kimchi Jeon/Pancake (김치전).

Korean food is always served with a lot of side dishes. One of the unique side dishes that they serve is Spicy raw crab/yangnyeom gejang (양념게장). Initially I did not know that it was raw crab. It was very fresh and sweet, not spicy at all.

After lunch, we went to Ssamziegil (쌈지길), one of the main attractions of Insadong. It’s an open-air structure that contains five floors of handcraft shops, accessory stores, snack counters, restaurants, and a gallery.

Insadong is a unique area of Seoul that truly represents the cultural history of the nation.

How to go there: 
Take subway to Anguk Station (Line 3), exit #6. Walk about 100m and turn left. You will be able to see the gate then.

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