Natural Urbanization

Seoul Travel Blog

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천계찬 chungaechan. near 동대문 dongdaemun.
There's this river that flows through the middle of one of Seoul's largest shopping districts called 천계찬 (chun gae chan). It was created sometime in 2005 in hopes of making the deeply urbanized district a little more aesthetically pleasing. A large river mainly filled with sewer water runs through the center of the street with walking paths created on both sides. It's a great place to see families on the weekend. Children are somehow allowed to run around in the water and splash to their heart's delight.

But in addition to the water, there are also beautiful murals painted on the side walls. It's great to see how Korea is beginning to embrace art and culture. I remember one time I was walking around, and I came across this wall with the most beautiful graffiti I'd ever seen.
the tent vendors in 동대문 dongdaemun.
I wish I'd gotten a picture of it when I'd had a chance.

Right above the river, there are a row of stores selling both wholesale and retail. Most items you'll see are marketed more towards the middle aged, but there are a few stores that sell children's clothes. 동대문 (Dongdaemun) is very divided by the products. One area will sell just bedding and blankets. Another will sell just women's clothes. Most vendors just display their wares on carts or underneath gigantic tents. Feel free to haggle as much as you can here. The more you buy, the more power you have to haggle.

At the main end that's close to the subway station, there are three major department store-esque buildings called Doota, Migliore, and Hello APM. At Doota, the prices are set, so you can't haggle, but at Migliore, you can haggle as long as you have cash readily available. After a while, all the shops start to blend into each other. My favorite level at Doota is the B1 level (bottom level) where the clothes are a bit less frilly and lacy. This one particular store next to the elevator sells the sluttiest club wear I've ever seen in Korea. But aside from that, they also have a few great accessories as well. Watch out, though, they can be a bit pricey.
eejot says:
ahh... dongdaemun... my shoe heaven :D
Posted on: Jun 26, 2007
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the beautiful murals on the wall.
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.

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. In one end, you could watch a performance of a traditional Korean wedding.
mural on the wall.
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 문�"의 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. 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.
inside Doota in 동대문 dongdaemun.
More information over at

I was really glad I ran into them because now I actually have something to do while I'm here. Although I did have plans to go to museums and wander around, I feel a sense of relief that this is going on. During the plane ride here, I was thinking about my involvement in LiNK and how I could further my role from just being a mere donor. And I also missed being a student activist. There's something about protesting that just gives me a thrill.

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.
the dirty river.
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.

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. Afterwards, I met up with Rina. The two of us went to Coex for dinner where we had Pho Bay. It was subpar, and I didn't really like it.

All in all, I had a great day and can't wait to see what awaits tomorrow.
천계찬 chungaechan. near 동대…
천계찬 chungaechan. near 동…
the tent vendors in 동대문 dong…
the tent vendors in 동대문 don…
the beautiful murals on the wall.
the beautiful murals on the wall.
mural on the wall.
mural on the wall.
inside Doota in 동대문 dongdaem…
inside Doota in 동대문 dongdae…
the dirty river.
the dirty river.
simulation of imperial guards at t…
simulation of imperial guards at …
inside the state room at the palac…
inside the state room at the pala…
photo by: chiyeh