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3.30.2017

Seoul Searching | Exploring Insadong.

Dubbed as 'the heart and soul of Seoul', Insadong is one of the most note-worthy neighborhoods in the city and a must-go destination for anyone visiting South Korea. I regret not visiting this place earlier, considering that we have been to Korea twice in the past. Better late than never, as they say, and we finally had the chance to explore this quaint and charming neighborhood during our month-long stay in Korea last winter - our third visit to the country that I call my second home.
I heart Insadong, and you will easily fall in love with it, too!
Conveniently located between the Five Grand Palaces of Korea, Insadong Street stretches over 700 meters between the Anguk-dong Rotary and Jongno 2-ga. The latter is located near the Jongno 3-ga Station, so we chose to go to Insadong via this subway station (Line 5). Another option is via the Anguk Station, but I chose to stay away from this line (Line 3) after my horrendous experience with the transfer on our way home from Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggyung Palace last spring.
Tapgol Park.
As we made our way to Insadong from the Jongno 3-ga Station, we passed by Tapgol Park, the first modern park established in Seoul. Also known as 'Pagoda Park', this tourist attraction is home to an abundance of national treasures, including the Palgakjeong, an octagonal pavilion built in 1902.
The Palgakjeong.
More of Tapgol Park and Insadong after the jump!
This pavilion played an important role during the Japanese colonial period. Here, people gathered and declared the Korean Independence Movement on March 1, 1919.
This pavilion played a huge role during the declaration of independence in 1919.
Another interesting attraction in the Tapgol Park is the Wongaksaji Sipcheugseoktap, a ten-story pagoda built in 1467 during the reign of King Sejo. Exhibiting a unique form and exemplary carving, this pagoda is regarded as one of the finest stone pagodas from the Joseon period.
The Wongaksaji Sipcheungseoktap, enclosed in glass.
Up close.
To commemorate the erection of this pagoda, the Wongaksabi was built. Also a national treasure, this monument was completed in 1471 during the reign of King Seongjong.
This pagoda houses the Wongaksabi.
The Wongaksabi, a tortoise-shaped monument.
Aside from national treasures, other landmarks found at Tapgol Park are statues and monuments dedicated to patriots and resistance members who fought for independence during the Japanese colonial period.
Manse! Manse! Manse!
Statue of Son Byeong Hui, Korean nationalist and independence activist.
This park is relatively smaller compared to the other parks that we have visited so we were able to explore the area within 15 minutes or so. We then made our way towards the main street of Insadong, located across the street from Tapgol Park.
Insadong-gil! :)
Once dominated by Dohwawon, a place of study for painters, Insadong-gil is now lined with souvenir shops, coffee shops (yes, they have Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts in Insadong), and cosmetics stores (think Innisfree and the like).
Alive Musuem, another popular 3D exhibition in Seoul.
Souvenirs galore!
You know you're in Insadong when you see masks like this. :)
Pretty fixtures inside a souvenir shop.
Cute and colorful hand mirrors
The charm of this neighborhood, however, lies among the narrow side streets and the winding alleys. These hidden alleys are treasure troves of antique shops, art galleries, quirky cafes, and traditional restaurants, that getting lost in them can actually be a pleasurable and worthwhile experience.
Remember Jang Nara's paintings in the drama Fated to Love You?
They were actually done by Youk Shim Won, and we found her gallery/shop in Insadong!
From bags to notebook, clothes to makeup, her shop has practically
everything that would tickle a young girl's fancy!
Vases, bowls, and pots.
An image of Buddha.
And even more antiques.
Teastory - a tea shop/museum/gallery.
Used books for sale.
Arirang, a Hansik (traditional food) restaurant.
Traditional clay jars used for fermenting/storing Korean sauces such as gochujang and doenjang.
So many restaurants to choose from.
Admiring art. :)
Dojang - traditional stone/wood stamp. You can have yours customized in Insadong! :)
Street food and snack shops are also a-plenty in Insadong. Here, we discovered the Dragon's Beard Candy and the Poop Bread (not made with poop!) which I have mentioned in this blog post.
Mandu (dumplings).
Bunggeoppang (fish-shaped bread with red bean or custard filling).
Gyeranppang (egg bread).
Sirutteok (rice cake covered with red beans).
Also located in the heart of Insadong is Ssamziegil, an iconic cultural complex guaranteed to pique any tourist's fancy. With its imaginative architecture, spiraling walkway, and cheerful ambiance, Ssamziegil makes for a fantastic shopping experience. Even window-shopping can be fun, as the shops are filled with unique items often incorporated with Korean themes.
Ssamziegil!
So many things to see inside!
Poop is quite popular in Insadong, that there's even a poop-themed cafe in Ssamziegil!
"Mommy look! It's the guy from Running Man!"
Christmas feels!
To complete your Insadong experience, you can also try wearing a Hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) as you stroll down the streets. There are a few hanbok rental shops within the Insadong area, with rental fees starting at as little as 15000 won. 
Insadong Information Center.
Similarly, the Insadong PR Center, located a few meters away from Ssamziegil, offers hanbok rentals for an even smaller fee. The hanboks, however, can only be worn inside the center for photo shoot purposes.
A wide array of hanboks for rent.
We're planning to visit Insadong again this spring, and I might try wearing a hanbok this time around. That is, if there's one that would fit me. Haha!

To get to Insadong, take Anguk Station (Line 3) Exit 6, or Jonggak Station (Line 1) Exit 3.

9 replies:

Mai C. said...

I've never heard much about Insadong. It sounds like an awesome place to go to for shoppers. I love that there are plenty of restaurants as well. Such an interesting place.

Xoneia Tayag said...

What I love about traveling is exploring places on your own, especially if it's your first time there. It would be nice to get lost in a place like Insadong.

mail4rosey said...

The pictures are great. And did you say Dunkin Donuts? My most favorite coffee shop to be. :)

travelpogi said...

woah looks like a beautiful city! i always wanted to visit Korea! those photos looks very interesting!!
-Kelly Reci

Blair Villanueva said...

Oh my I want to visit this city, and have my own dojang for business use. That poop pillow would be nice as a present for my bro! :) Your kiddo seems he had a great time!

Fatima Torres said...

Looks like a great place to visit. There's a lot to see and so much culture to experience.

zoan said...

What a beautiful place to Visit! You have beautiful memories to keep and what catches my attention is the Pagoda! What a treasure! I hope we can visit the place in this lifetime.

Mommy Levy said...

Oh I wish we could visit South Korea soon. I would like to wear winter clothes too while strolling the place.

Mitchelle said...

I love this post as I'm a korean drama fanatic, I feel like I've been in these places. Anyway, Korea is definitely a place we want to visit in the near future.