Visiting Insadong Street in Seoul for Korean Culture, Buying Souvenirs & Street Food

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Aug. 22, 2013

In our latest travel video we venture of to one of our favorite areas in Seoul, known as Insadong street on a quest to experience Korean culture, buy some Korean souvenirs and sample plenty of Korean street food. While wandering down the bustling street we noticed young Korean men and women holding out Free Hugs signs. Naturally we both decided to receive a free ourselves. While shopping Audrey noticed a matching couple Korean mask set along with some other cute Korean socks. Finally, we had our Korean caricature drawn which we both absolutely ended up loving. You'll notice several time lapse videos of the Korean and foreign pedestrians walking down the street along with a Korean man dancing and several other distinct moments. In this travel video we explore Insadong traditional street - popular with Koreans and foreigners - wandering around the traditional restaurants, arts and crafts, street food, malls and street performances. There are a lot of cultural style performances for both music and dance. We enjoyed both sunny and rainy weather during our two visits. The video captures all of the action on the busiest pedestrian street in Seoul, South Korea. Insadong-gil is "well known as a traditional street to both locals and foreigners"10 and represents the "culture of the past and the present".11 It contains a mixture of historical and modern atmosphere and is a "unique area of Seoul that truly represents the cultural history of the nation."10 The majority of the traditional buildings originally belonged to merchants and bureaucrats. Some larger residences, built for retired government officials during the Joseon period, can also be seen. Most of these older buildings are now used as restaurants or shops. Among the historically significant buildings located in the area are Unhyeongung mansion, Jogyesa - one of the most significant Korean Buddhist temples, and one of Korea's oldest Presbyterian churches.3 The area is well known for sightseeing, with approximately 100,000 visitors on Sundays reported in 2000.5 Insadong is also a visiting spot for foreign dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth II and the princes of Spain and the Netherlands.12 It contains 40 percent of the nation's antique shops and art galleries as well as 90 percent of the traditional stationery shops.13 Particularly noteworthy is Tongmungwan,14 the oldest bookstore in Seoul, and Kyung-in Art Gallery,15 the oldest tea house. There are daily calligraphy demonstrations and pansori performances. Insadong is a dong, or neighborhood of the Jongno-gu district of the South Korean city of Seoul. The main street is Insadong-gil, which is connected to a multitude of alleys that lead deeper into the district.12 At one time it was the largest market for antiques and artworks in Korea.2 In area, 12.7 hectares (or 31.4 acres),3 the district is bordered by Gwanhun-dong to the north, Nagwon-dong to the east, and Jongno 2-ga and Jeokseon-dong to the south, and Gongpyeong-dong to the west. This is part of our Life in Korea series.