Insadong 인사동 is an important place in the middle of Seoul that represents the focal point of Korean traditional culture and crafts. I enjoy walking down the Insadong street, browsing the various shops and stalls to look for souvenirs back home for my family and friends. There are also interesting finds of Korean snacks that you may not have known of before you visit Insadong! 😉
In this buoyant neighbourhood, there is a building called Ssamziegil (쌈지길) which has been marked as the “Special Insadong within Insadong”. The building is specially designed to connect its charming alleys with a spiral-like stairway, so you don’t have to “climb the stairs”. I like it here because it has many interesting shops selling artistic/ creative products, and very beautifully designed, with unique and cute drawings all over its walls.
Most of the shops on the first floor put up a sign at its entrance telling visitors not to take any photos… so I can’t share the lovely things they are selling here. I think the decor of this building changes with the seasons. As it was already end winter when I visited, the wall paintings etc were all about the coming Spring (봄). The previous time when I went it was all about autumn (가을), see picture below. Lovely… ^^
There are also many restaurants in Ssamziegil which I have not yet tried due to time constraints. The highly recommended ones online include Miss Lee Cafe, Apple Tree, Sanchon and Gojung. For more details refer to this website: http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2930263. In my previous autumn trip in 2008, I managed to try out the Saram & Namu restaurant (Human & Tree, 사람과 나무) serving Korean fusion food, located in a Hanok building. Its lunch special was priced at KRW 7,000 each, pretty worthwhile as the serving was big and we had problem finishing all the food.
Besides Ssamziegil in Insadong, there is one thing you should not miss. The Starbucks outlet here has a unique Korean signage, as it was felt that its western signage was incompatible with the traditional ambience of the area, hence this signage was created:
One can spend a whole day just exploring Insadong alone hehe. To get to Insadong, alight at Anguk subway station line no. 3, exit #6 (안국역, 3호선 6번 출구) towards Jongno Police Station. You can combine it with a palace tour (Changdeokgung or Unhyeongung) + Bukchon then Insadong since all these are in the same vicinity. Hope you will enjoy it as much as I did! 🙂