Seoul has not shortage of places to shop. But Insadong stands out to many as a “don’t miss.” Insadong is often described as a more “artsy” shopping area, perhaps a little more upscale than some of the other well-known markets.
You will find lots of art galleries and antique shops in this area. But we also found many of our souvenirs here, including a drum for our son and small items like key chains and bookmarks for relatives. We were there on a Thursday evening, when it wasn’t as busy. But from what I’ve read the area becomes packed on the weekends, when vendors line the streets and cultural events take place.
Insadong has been a thriving area for centuries and has been a cultural center since the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). In addition to shopping, Insadong is also home to historical places of interest. Tapgol Park is at one end of Insadong; there you’ll find a memorial to the March 1 Independence Movement, which took place in 1919. The home of Park Younghyo, creator of the Korean flag, is also located in Insadong, as is Unhyeongung, which was home to a young Gojongwho later became king during the Joseon Dynasty.
And if you’re an American looking for a taste of home, you’ll also find a Starbucks in Insadong. One interesting thing about this Starbucks is that it’s the only one in the country to have Starbucks written in hangul, 스타벅스 커피. This was required to protect the traditional feeling of Insadong. I must admit that I’m not sure if the coffee tastes the same. We found a local shop near where we lived and they had such great coffee that I didn’t bother with Starbucks.
If you want to learn more about Insadong, the following links to the Korea Tourism site should provide you with plenty of information.