Insadong: Where Old Crosses with the New

Seoul Travel Blog

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Ssamziegil in Seoul, South Korea.
Yesterday, I met Jen who was in the Sunshine Project with me last summer, and we decided to meet in Insadong. I thought that I'd never been there before, but I'd actually done some outreach stuff there last summer during the most intense three weeks of my life. I really love Insadong, especially Ssamziegil. It's designed into a four or five story open air building lined with shops and carts that sell clothes, hats, jewelry, and other accessories. Various objects hang from the strings in the ceiling. It's all very colorful, very youthful, and very artsy. Besides the permanent vendors, there are countless kiosk carts filled with handmade jewelry.

I fell in love with Insadong yesterday. The entire area is oozing with culture, and new, modern art mixes with traditional Korean customs and cultures.
Justice for North Korea in Insadong.
In one end, you could watch a performance of a traditional Korean wedding. On the other end of the street, you could go into an art gallery that features the work of contemporary Korean artists. It truly was the 문화의 길 (street of culture).

It's also a popular area for political activism. One thing that I really like about Korea is the amount of concern the average citizen has for politics. I think this stems from the fact that Korea is a relatively new democracy. (It's only been around 20 some odd years since Korea moved away from a military dictatorship.) Jen and I were walking towards another section of Insadong when we ran into a small group of students who were protesting the repatriation of North Koreans in China - essentially the same thing we had done last summer with 40 other students.
ice coffee.... yum.
Called Justice for North Korea, they're currently doing a 444 day project where they're going to the Chinese embassy for 444 days to protest the repatriation. More information over at 444days.org.

After joining the protest for 20 minutes, we continued on our way to where the shops were. I glanced into a passing staircase and spotted some streetwear, so I immediately stopped. The store (called Horse Cabbage) turned out to be a men's store, but that didn't stop us. I bought a present for a friend, and Jen got a shirt that she could wear as a dress. The prices there were pretty decent (T-shirts were around 15,000-20,000 won and sweaters around 30,000). All the guys working there were super cute, and the guys who were shopping there were adorable too.
creepy photo of Ronald McDonald and some Korean male.


There were a lot of great looking restaurants that all had a natural theme to their decor. They were all super charming and made me wish we hadn't eaten lunch beforehand. The heat began to exhaust us, so we ducked into a cafe called Leehaus that had three levels. The first level was a wine bar, and the second and third were reserved for coffee and cakes. Watch out, though. You may pay around 9,000 won for an ice coffee. The bathroom made it all worth it with the sink shaped like a traditional wooden water pump.

Afterwards, we went to a few stores and saw a number of famous ones. The shoe store, Sue comma Bonnie, is located there as well. The shoes run around $200USD. We also saw a canvas bag that supposedly cost 350,000 won. (Ridiculously overpriced, so beware.) We wandered around for a while more and saw riot police and a cracked out picture of Ronald McDonald and some creepy looking Korean guy hanging in an art gallery. All in all, I loved Insadong and can't wait to go back!
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Ssamziegil in Seoul, South Korea.
Ssamziegil in Seoul, South Korea.
Justice for North Korea in Insadon…
Justice for North Korea in Insado…
ice coffee.... yum.
ice coffee.... yum.
creepy photo of Ronald McDonald an…
creepy photo of Ronald McDonald a…
Miniature greenhouse in Ssamziegil…
Miniature greenhouse in Ssamziegi…
Ssamziegil in Seoul, South Korea.
Ssamziegil in Seoul, South Korea.
piano protester in Insadong. The s…
piano protester in Insadong. The …
statue of little girl in art galle…
statue of little girl in art gall…
collection of wine bottles in Leeh…
collection of wine bottles in Lee…
water fountain in Leehaus Wine & C…
water fountain in Leehaus Wine & …
Ssamziegil in Seoul, South Korea.
Ssamziegil in Seoul, South Korea.
Seoul
photo by: chiyeh