Insadong is one of the largest markets for antiques, artworks, and Korean products and souvenirs in South Korea's capital, Seoul. The traditional street within the Insadong area is one of the most popular places to check out for both locals and foreigners. It combines the past and the present day Korea with its fine mix of cultural items and services.
It offers that interesting mix of the historical past and the rapidly changing present acknowledged being distinctively Korean.The main street called the Insadong-gil is connected to a multitude of alleys leading deeper into many local and tourist destinations.
A Tourist's Haven
The long stretch of the Insadong marketplace is home to traditional structures, antique items, souvenir articles for tourists, and even high tech gadgets that modern day Korea is known for. Insadong is also near many key institutions foreigners need to visit during their stay in Korea. For instance, the marketplace is near the immigration office; thus, making it easy for foreign visitors to arrange their alien documentation requirements, then they can go shopping, take photos and videos, or just merely explore the nearby Insadong, once done with their immigration tasks. Insadong is also often visited by foreign dignitaries, from ambassadors to queens, when they are in town.
Sights and Attractions Around Insadong
There are many traditional buildings around Insadong, originally owned by the merchants and wealthy people living in the area from centuries ago. There are a number of large residences originally built as homes for retired government officials during the Joseon Dynasty. Most of these structures are now used as restaurants and shops.
Other popular tourist sites around the area include the Unhyeon Palace, the Bosingak Bell Pavilion, and the Jongno Tower. Art lovers often visit Samcheongdong, a nearby area known for its rich art scene. One of the more recent attractions in Insadong is the Asia Eros Museum, the country's first sex museum. Tourists can also visit palaces, Korean Buddhist temples, and Presbyterian churches around Insadong.
Shopping in Insadong
Insadong contains almost half of Korea's antique shops and art galleries. It is also a top destination to almost all traditional stationery shops in Korea. It is home to the Tongmungwan, the oldest bookstore in Seoul, and the Kyung-in Art Gallery, the oldest tea house in Seoul.
Insadong also features a very long stretch filled with Korean commercial establishments and products. It also houses the Insadong Gallery Street.
Some of the popular buys in many Insadong shops include antique statues and weapons, Buddhist sculptures, traditional Korean porcelains, ceramics, masks, hand pressed papers, home decors, Hanbok (Korean traditional clothes), traditional Korean food, Korean souvenirs, and various flea market products.
Insadong also hosts a number of performances around the area, including daily calligraphy demonstrations and pansori (a genre of Korean traditional music) performances.