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Insadong

Description
Insadong and the surrounding area were the residences of Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) officials, extended royal families, and the yangbanaristocratic class. The antique art shops that were established here during the Japanese Colonial Period carried everyday items of the privileged class as these items became antiques in the face of modernity. Since then, Insadong has been home to dozens of art galleries and antique shops. Insadong's narrow alleys branch out into all directions from one main street. To explore the interesting places on these side alleys, it would be helpful to get a map of Insadong at one of three Tourism Information Centers that are located at the center and the two ends of the main street.

  • Antiques
    41% of Korea's antique shops. These shops display and sell quality antiques such as old paintings, ceramics, woodenware, metalware, old furniture and many other items. Among them, ceramics are found abundantly. Numerous antique shops are renowned for specific merchandise: Tongmungwan for old documents, Haedonggodoja Research Institute for ceramics, Godosa for daily utensils of the past, Dongmundang and Gonghwarang for calligraphy supplies, and Naraksil and Gayajae are famous for old furniture.
     

  • Art Galleries
    Art galleries began to settle in Insadong from the 1970's and presently account for more than 70 shops. Galleries in Insadong display and sell modern art pieces as well as antiques. The price of artworks range from a few U.S. dollars to ten thousand U.S. dollars. Exhibitions are held frequently in these galleries and give good chances for Korean artists to gather. Insa Art Center and Gyeongin Art Gallery are famous in Insadong.
     

  • Hanbok Korean Traditional Clothes, Ceramics, Handicrafts and Souvenirs
    Most hanbok shops in Insadong sell a simplified version of hanbok. hanbok usually costs about two hundred U.S. dollars, but the price of high-quality hanbok could go up to a few thousand U.S. dollars. Jilgyeongyi Wuriot is a famous hanbok shop. Ceramics is another popular shopping item in Insadong. Good quality ceramics have a clean color and make a pure sound when tapping it with a finger.
    Bakyeongsukyo is a prominent ceramics shop which even was visited by Queen Elizabeth ?? of England. If hanbok or ceramics are too expensive, traditional-style daily items might be a good option. Wuri Segye, Sori Hana, and Tongin Gagye are good shops to get souvenirs such as silk pouches, oriental fans or mobile phone strings. Gana Art Shop inside of Insa Art Center offers traditional high quality items. Awon Gongbang is a good shop for metal crafted products and the National Souvenir Center and Seoul Souvenir Shop are specialized souvenir shops in Insadong.
     

  • Food and Drink
    Most restaurants in Insadong are on alleys near Sudo Pharmacy. (Please refer to the map of Insadong.) Traditional restaurants in Insadong serve Korean dishes cooked without synthetic seasonings in remodeled traditional Korean houses. Sanchon serves good temple food along with a traditional performance. The Restaurant Jirisan Restaurant is famous for delicious dishes that taste of Korean home cooking. Sadongmyeonok is renowned for manduguk dumpling soup, Insadong Hangari Sujebi is recognized for sujebi clear soup with wheat flakes, and Gaetmaeul Milbatjip is celebrated for kalguksu noodle soup. Yetchatjip, Gwicheon, and Jeontong Dawon located inside of Gyeongin Art Gallery are popular traditional teahouses. A fun experience in Insadong is to try hotteok Chinese stuffed pancake or ggultarae from a street vendor.


Transportation Map

  • Seoul Subway Line 1, Jonggak Station, 5 minute walk

  • Seoul Subway Line 1, Jongno 3-ga Station, 5 minute walk

  • Seoul Subway Line 3, Anguk Station, 5 minute walk



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Noted Shops

  • Insa Art Center
    Insa Art Center is an art complex with 4 exhibition halls and Gana Art Shop which sells quality traditional items. It's easy to find since it's located on the main street.
    Tel : +82-2-736-1020 (Kor)
    Hours: 10:00~19:00(Gana Art Shop 10:00 ~ 19:30)
    Closed on New Years Day, Lunar New Years Day and Chuseok Korean Thanksgiving Day.
     

  • Gyeongin Art Gallery
    Gyeongin Art Gallery is an art complex with 3 indoor exhibition halls, 1 outdoor exhibition hall, traditional teahouse and a garden.
    Tel : +82-2-733-4448(Kor)
    Hours : 10:00~19:00
    Closed on every last Tuesday of the month, New Years Day, the Lunar New Year Day and Chuseok Korean Thanksgiving Day.
     

  • Wuri Segye
    Wuri Segye offers small daily items (around 20 U.S. dollars) and textile bags with Korean traditional designs (around 40 U.S. dollars). The owner designs the items herself.
    Awon Gongbang
    The owner designs and sells metal handicrafts. Awongongbang has interior decorations such as bronze mirrors and accessories with a price ranging from around 25 U.S. dollars to over 250 U.S. dollars.
    Tel : +82-2-734-3482(Kor)
    Hours : 10:30~19:30
    Closed on New Years Day, Lunar New Years Day and Chuseok Korean Thanksgiving Day.Tel : +82-2-725-1216(Kor)
    Hours : 09:30~21:30
    Open year round
     

  • Tongin Gagye
    Tongin Gagye mostly offers daily items and souvenirs with a price ranging from a few U.S. dollars to 500 U.S. dollars. Located on the main street, it's easy to spot.
    Tel : +82-2-733-4867(Kor)
    Hours : 10:00~19:00
    Closed on New Years Day, Lunar New Years Day and Chuseok Koean Thanksgiving Day.
     

  • Gilgyeongyi Wuriot
    Gilgyeongyi Wuriot sells simplified versions of hanbok (Korean traditional costume) with a price ranging from 200 U.S. dollars to 1000 U.S. dollars.
    Tel : +82-2-734-5934(Kor)
    Hours : Mon.~ Sat.10:00~21:00/Sun.11:00~20:00
    Closed on New Years Day, Lunar New Years Day and Chuseok Korean Thanksgiving Day.
     

  • Sori Hana
    Sori Hana is a good place to shop for small souvenirs such as pouches, fans, picture frames, and accessories.
    Tel : +82-2-733-8335(Kor)
    Hours : 09:30~19:00
    Closed on New Years Day, Lunar New Years Day and Chuseok Koean Thanksgiving Day.
     

  • Tongmungwan
    Tongmungwan is the most famous shop for old documents on archaeology, historical science and Korean literature in Insadong. Major customers are scholars.
    Tel : +82-2-734-4092(Kor)
    Hours : 10:30~18:00
    Closed on New Years Day, Lunar New Years Day and Chuseok Korean Thanksgiving Day.
     

  • Bakyeongsukyo
    Bakyeongsukyo is a well-known ceramic shop and was visited by Queen Elizabeth of England.
    Tel : +82-2-730-7837(Kor)
    Hours : 09:30~18:00
    Closed on Sundays and National Holidays
     

  • National Souvenir Centre (NSC)
    NSC offers inexpensive souvenir items. Located at the entrance of Insadong from Jongno, it's easy to access.
    Tel : +82-2-734-2234(Kor)
    Hours : 10:00~21:00
    Closed on New Years Day, Lunar New Years Day and Korean Thanksgiving Day.
     

  • Seoul Souvenir Shop (Insadong)
    Seoul Souvenir Shop displays and sells items from the Korean Souvenir Contest. Next to Insadong Tourist Information Center, where free internet access is also available.
    Tel : +82-2-3210-0328(Kor)
    Hours : 10:05~22:00
    Closed on New Years Day, Lunar New Years Day and Chuseok Korean Thanksgiving Day.

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Food

  • Sanchon
    Sanchon serves a full course temple food which has 16 dishes served at one time. Traditional dance performance are provided during the dinner hours(19:15~21:00).
    Tel : +82-2-735-0312(Kor)
    Hours : 12:00 ~ 22:00
    Closed on New Years Day, Lunar New Years Day and Chuseok Korean Thanksgiving Day.
    Languages: Kor/Eng/Jap

  • Gaetmaeul Milbatjip
    The specialty of this restaurant is bajirak kalguksu clam noodle soup. Kongguksu bean noodle soup and mandu dumplings are also popular. It is at the entrance of Insadong from Jongno, it's easy to locate.
    Tel : +82-2- 737-0227(Kor)
    Hours : 11:00 ~ 21:30
    Closed on New Years Day, Lunar New Years Day and Chuseok Korean Thanksgiving Day.
    Languages: Kor/Eng/Jap

  • Hangari Sujebi
    Chewy sujebi soup with wheat flakes at this restaurant is served in a small jar of clay. Gulpajeon oyster and green onion pancake and golbaengi spicy seafood salad are popular as well. Cold kongguksu bean noodle soup is added to the menu during the summer.
    Tel : +82-2-735-5481/3361(Kor)
    Hours : 11:30~21:30
    Closed on New Years Day, Lunar New Years Day and Chuseok Korean Thanksgiving Day.
    Languages: Kor/Eng/Jap

  • Jirisan
    The owner grows beans and vegetables and makes tofu to serve the best Korean home dishes. Casserole of bean-curd dregs is served for free during the lunchtime.
    Sambodang Hotteok
    Sambodang serves Hotteok (Chinese stuff pancake) and Odaeng (fish cake). Hotteok is a fried pancake made of glutinous rice, black sugar, and peanuts and tastes sweet. (500 won for one Hotteok)
    Tel : +82-2-722-1052(Kor)
    Hours : 10:00~20:30
    Closed on Monday of every first and third week of the month.Tel : +82-2-723-7213(Kor)
    Hours : 11:30~22:00
    Closed on New Years Day, Lunar New Years Day and Chuseok Korean Thanksgiving Day.
    Languages: Kor/Jap

  • Sadong Myeonok
    The specialties of Sadongmyeongok are mandu dumplings jeongol beef and noodle casserole, manduguk dumpling soup, doganitang ox knee bone stew) and Bulgogi.
    Tel : +82-2-735-7393(Kor)
    Hours : 10:00~22:30
    Closed on New Years Day, Lunar New Years Day and Chuseok Korean Thanksgiving Day.
    Languages: Kor/Eng/Jap

  • Ggultarae
    Ggultarae is a snack with a very interesting appearance. It looks like strands of white silk wrapped into little balls. These threads are actually made from honey, pine nuts, cornstarch, chestnuts, and peanuts. It tastes sweet and two kinds of Ggultarae, Peanut Ggultarae and Almond Ggultarae are available.
    Tel : None
    Hours : 10:00~21:00
    Open year round

  • Jeontong Dawon (Traditional Tea House)
    Located inside Gyeongin Art Gallery, Jeontong Dawon serves good quince tea and citron tea inside a Hanok (traditional Korean house) with a spacious garden. Gyeongin Art and Craft Shop next to the teahouse is another attraction that draws many tourists.
    Tel : +82-2-730-6305(Kor)
    Hours : 10:00 ~ 23:00
    Closed on New Years Day, Lunar New Years Day and Chuseok Korean Thanksgiving Day.
    Languages: Kor/Eng/Jap

  • Yetchatjip
    Located on the main street, Yetchatjip is easy to spot and serves good jujube tea. It has 19 tables and ondol floor heating system rooms as well. 30% of customers are Japanese tourists.
    Tel : +82-2-722-5332(Kor)
    Hours : 10:00~23:30
    Open year round

  • Gwicheon
    The wife of a famous poet Cheon Sangbyeong, runs this tea house and she does her utmost to serve high quality tea cultivating all the ingredients at her home. Gwicheon is visited by many famous writers in Korea.
    Tel : +82-2-734-2828(Kor)
    Hours :11:00~22:00
    Open year round

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Tourist Information Center
Opened on January 5, 2003, Insadong Tourist Information Center offers three computers with free internet access and English, Chinese and Japanese speaking staff. Other facilities are ATM, public phones, fax and copy machine.
Tel : +82-2-731-1676(Kor/Eng/Jap/Chn)
Hours : 10:00-22:00
Open year round

Tourist Information Center ("TIC")
Two Tourist Information Centers are located at the two ends of the main street of Insadong providing well-trained staff fluent in English and Japanese, maps and useful brochures and booklets. Public bathrooms are located next to TICs as well.

Nam (South) Insa Tourist Information Center : +82-2-731-1622 (Kor/Eng/Jap)
Buk (North) Insa Tourist Information Center : +82-2-734-0222 (Kor/Eng/Jap)
Hours : 10:00-18:00
Closed on Lunar New Years Day and Thanksgiving Day

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Shopping tips

  • Visit several shops to compare prices before purchasing any item.
     

  • On Sundays, Insadong becomes automobile-free. Various stalls and booths are opened along the street selling antiques paintings, and handicrafts.
     

  • Tourism Information Centers ("TIC") are available at the center and the two ends of the main street of Insadong. It's advisable to stop by a TIC for a map of Insadong. Insadong has many side alleys which makes it helpful to have a map when looking for your destination.
     

  • Public bathrooms are located next to Tourism Information Centers at the two ends of the main street of Insadong.

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Insadong Insights
"Hottoek tastes really good" is what Ms. Haruna Takano(Student, Japan) said about Insadong with a big and satisfied smile on her face.

She went on to say, "Most tourist magazines in Japan introduce Insadong. It's worth visiting. There are so many things to see and eat." Then she showed what she bought, "I bought key holders and postcards for my friends, then had bulgogi for dinner. It feels just great. Though I have to go back to my hotel now because most shops close by 9 pm, I only hope that the shops in Insadong close late for shoppers late at night."

To the question "What did you like the most about Insadong?," one of Ms. Haruna's companions (Ms. Mariko Nisida, Student, Japan) picked food vendors on the street, and the other (Ms. Azsa Takano, Student, Japan) referred to the convenient transportation.

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Information provided by Korea National Tourism Organization.

 

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