My amazing friend Zach is visiting Seoul in July for business and as soon as I found out I started making a mental list of all the things we must do while he is here. Among the many things on that list is Insadong. Insadong was originally an area for painters to study and has held true to its roots as it is now a place to find beautiful paintings, ceramics, and other crafts. Here are a few of my favorite things in Insadong.
Sticker Pics: I’m kind of obsessed with sticker pic shops. Every time I find a new one I beg Dave to go in with me and pose for some pictures. Sticker pic shops have a few photo booths usually with the option of doing full body or from the waist up pictures. It costs 6,000 Won (about 6 bucks) and you typically choose 8 different backgrounds to pose with. After you are done you choose your top 4 and go out of the booth to add cartoons and writing to them if you so desire. When you’re satisfied, the pics are printed on a single sheet of sticker paper. Be warned that if it is busy the shop will have a timer on for each step so make your decisions quickly! My favorite sticker pic shop is in Insadong in the Ssamziegil complex which you can’t miss. Insadong is mostly small shops, this is a large mall. When you enter there will be stairs on your right and at the top of the stairs there is a sticker pic shop on the left. Out of all the sticker pics we’ve done so far it has the highest print quality and the best backgrounds, plus they have been the friendliest!
Pick up a dojang. A dojang is a personalized stone stamp. You can get one with your name or initials or whatever you want. I got one with Wake Up and Dance on it. This is the best place to get a dojang made because it is so easy to find a place to make one for you. You can get a traditional looking one like I did or you can visit the booth outside on the street which seems to be quite popular for a more modern style dojang.
Discount Pottery: If you are walking down Insadong street in the opposite direction of Anguk Station, you will eventually come across a discount pottery shop on the right hand side. All of the ceramics have some kind of flaw (which I can never find!) that made them unable to sell at retail prices. We’ve bought beautiful things there for only a few bucks.
Korean Souvenirs This is a great place to pick up souvenirs! Anything you want, from chopsticks to tea sets to paintings to hanbok. Dave bought me a beautiful antique jewelry box in Insadong from a lovely old man. It’s my favorite souvenir we’ve picked up so far.
Samcheongdong When you get hungry you could eat either on Insadong Street or you could head over to neighboring Samcheongdong. It’s a cute little area where you can find many coffee shops, boutiques and restaurants. It has a wonderful vibe and I like that it still has some old traditional buildings and walls. It has less of a touristy feel than Insadong as well. To get to Samcheongdong walk straight out of Anguk Station exit 2 for about 700m. Make a right and you’ll quickly find yourself there!