Technically speaking, I’m not someone who follows the latest trends closely, but I do make it a point to visit Myeongdong (명동) whenever I’m in Seoul, because it’s just so vibrant & bustling with activities all the time. Needless to say, I made sure there’s time for Myeongdong for the period I was in Seoul. In fact, I was in the area for more than once, partly because it’s conveniently located near the apartment I stayed in.
Within 5 years since my last visit, Myeongdong has changed a lot, & gotten much more crowded with tourists. It’s definitely a great sign for the merchants there with increased popularity, but I found it a bit daunting to find my way through the massive crowd… Another change that caught me by surprise was how quiet the Migliore (밀리오레) shopping mall is now. Located near Myeongdong Station (명동역, Line 4 exit 5 & 6), this shopping mall used to be filled with customers most of the time given its strategic location & trendy little fashion shops on its many floors. Now, not sure if it’s because there is some revamp taking place, at least half the retail space was vacant when I visited. The remaining shops looked like they seriously needed an overhaul. I was out of the mall in less than 30 min. 😛
This area is still filled with countless Korean skin care & cosmetics shops just like before, & many brands have more than 1 outlet in the area. This meant that you can always hop to the other same-brand outlet to make your purchases if you aren’t satisfied with the service in a particular outlet. But what had changed was, these shops were no longer as generous as before, in terms of dishing out door gifts (facial cotton, facial masks etc) to welcome you. Fine, some may consider the door gifts in the past to be a bonus, but now, even if you make a purchase, some brands either give you really little samples/ gifts (e.g. The Face Shop, Adieu, Tony Moly) or they don’t even bother to give you any (e.g. Skin Food)! 😦 Guess Korean skincare brands feel they no longer need to attract new customers with such free gifts, since they’re already enjoying brisk business now!
Besides shopping for beauty products & fashion, Myeongdong is also a place where you can find the most “in” (or popular) cafes, restaurants, as well as street snacks that people go gaga over. With so many little alleys that you can turn into from the main street from Myeongdong Station, you’ll be spoilt for choice when trying to decide what to eat here. Maybe just let your legs bring you to wherever it wanna go since there’s so much good food to try here!
There were so many pushcarts here selling Korean street snacks such as the usual spicy rice cake, cuttlefish, hotteok etc. The latest trend when I visited in April seemed to be the strawberry mochi snacks. It’s probably because big & fresh strawberries were in season then I guess. I also bought 1 to try & it was beautifully wrapped in a small plastic bag tied with red ribbon.
Of course, I wouldn’t forget to visit my favourite tea house – the O’Sulloc Tea House (오설록) before I left. The Myeongdong outlet has shrunk quite a bit in size & is no longer located in a prominent location. 😦 Fortunately, I still managed to find it & got my morning tea fix before flying home. 🙂
Things may have changed a lot in Myeongdong, but it is still one of my must-go places in Seoul to check out latest trends (& also to feel young again haha), otherwise the whole trip would feel weird! What about you? 😉