F Insadong, Beyond Korean Souvenirs & Handicrafts - jeepneyjinggoy

Insadong, Beyond Korean Souvenirs & Handicrafts

Entering Insadong, one of Seoul's popular shopping attraction referred to as an art Mecca

Hanbok, janji, calligraphy items, tea, pottery, antiques, art and other traditional Korean handicrafts and souvenirs, locals will point tourists to Insadong. 

At the center of the city, the 700-meter long Insadong-gil ,which runs from Tapgol Park to Angok-dong Rotary, is one of the most popular shopping destinations. But it’s not all tourists that fill up the main street and the alleys, the locals too are regulars in this area. 

Insadong, Seoul
Korean art on souvenir items

There is much more than the place other than a souvenir and handicraft attraction. The culturally-rich address was a very prominent area in the past. During the Joseon Dynasty, a number of buildings along the street were once owned by government officials, merchants and bureaucrats.

Insadong, Seoul
Locals will point you to this address for souvenirs and traditional handicrafts

Along the crowded street and myriad of craft shops are art galleries. Art flows in Insadong’s veins, so to speak. In the past, Insadong was once the location of Dohwawon, the National Department of Painting, the division which created paintings and woodworks for the royalty and the palaces for centuries. Maybe this was the reason why artists made their way to the place. 

After the Korean War, art galleries started moving in. With more than a hundred galleries in the address today, Insadong is an art mecca. 

Insadong, Seoul
Art beats in the heart of Insadong. There are more than galleries in the area

If you’re in search of traditional Korean fine art, then this is where you head to. Popular galleries are the Gana Art Center and the Gana Art Gallery, which promotes budding artists, and the Hakgojae Gallery, which functions as the folk art center.

Insadong, Seoul
A shop selling block prints

Insadong, Seoul
A calligraphy shop

Pottery is also an art form and there are several in the area too. Fancy a souvenir for a few wons or a dearer set that can set you off by a million won or two.

Insadong, Seoul
Traditional decorative pottery and tea sets can set you off a few wons to a million or two

Insadong, Seoul
Minature ceramic figurines

Where there are pottery shops, expect to find teahouses (Osulloc has an outlet there), and restaurants too. Venture to the side streets and discover these establishments. 

Insadong, Seoul
Which is sweeter? The Korean delicacy or the smile? Dragon's Hair candy is a sweet delicacy of Korea

If you think that the 700-meter stretch is easy to navigate, think again. Not only will the heavy crowd slow down your pace, consider the hundreds of interesting shops and galleries. Stopping at each, or most of it, and go through through the merchandise will make you forget time. Oh, there is the street food, too. 

Insadong, Seoul
Daily scene along the 700-meter stretch

Also published in the SunStar Davao newspaper.

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