Insadong is an arts, crafts and antiques area in northern
Seoul not far from Kyeong Bok palace. This popular tourist destination has been
a place for art and culture for the past 600 years. Insadong is centered around
a narrow road which runs from Anguk station down to Pagoda park and is lined
with shops, galleries, tea houses and restaurants. The theme of the street is
strictly traditional. In fact, the famous Starbucks coffee shop chain was
ordered by the Seoul city government to have the name of their shop in Insadong
written using Korean characters rather than the usual Roman characters. If you
don’t like the hustle and bustle of the main street you can find many quaint
little traditional restaurants and tea houses tucked away in back alleys that
branch off from the central street. These places provide cozy environments where
you can relax and soak up the culture and history.
What can be bought
Paintings – oil and ink
Calligraphy paper, brushes and ink in liquid form in
bottles and solid form carved into the shape of landscapes with mountains,
lakes and trees
Buddha statues – metal and ceramic
Miniature temple bells and wind chimes
Small gifts – fans, dolls in traditional clothing, and
Traditional sweets – rice cakes and Yot (Korean candy)
What you can eat and drink
In the tea houses (chat jip), a variety of teas and wines
are sold. These include herbal and fruit teas and rice and fruit wines.
The restaurants in Insadong serve Korean food with some
specializing in vegetarian meals such as those eaten by Buddhist monks, for whom
meat is forbidden.
Sundays are a good time to go to Insadong (unless you
don’t like crowds) because on Sundays, Insadong is closed to traffic and events
are held in the street. These events include live singing, traditional musical
instrument performances and street parades with people dressed in traditional
How to get there
Insadong can be reached by getting off at exit one of
Ankuk subway station nd walking about twenty meters, or exit one of Chongno 3 Ga
station and walking towards the Chongno 2 Ga intersection which is the one where
Burger King and Pagoda park are located.
If you want to go by bus, then any bus which stops near
Chogno 2 Ga intersection will do.
by Robert Reginald
Traditional Korean Tea along
with some snacks (DDeok).
Pear tea (top right) and plum tea (bottom)