Saturday, July 4, 2009

081102 - Insadong

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Insadong has been at the heart of the nation’s capital for 600 years and it has been the center of culture since the time of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Over forty percent of the nation’s antique stores are in Insadong. The antiques sold tend to be more valuable than those sold on other art streets in Korea. Most of the stores sell old books, pictures and calligraphy. Among the antiques are old pictures, pottery, wooden containers and jewelries. Besides that, there are many art galleries where local artists displayed their masterpieces. On weekends, Insadong is closed to traffic as there are flea markets where antiques, accessories, artworks and books are sold.

The huge calligraphy brush proudly displayed at the beginning of the main street of Insadong.

Main Street of Insadong

Main Street of Insadong during autumn

Plant with flowers along the street of Insadong

In Insadong, there are many alleys where you can find some local cuisines or even stalls selling all kind of stuffs mainly books, antiques, artworks and porcelains. Italian restaurant with an interesting blend of traditional Korean design and modern design

Stalls selling dried octopus as snacks

At this stall, at 500won you can to throw a dart at the spinning wheel. Once you hit at the given target, you will get the animal shape candy as your reward. The reward is based on the size of the animal, either a big tiger or a small cat and etc.

Stores selling calligraphy brush

This old couple in the midst preparing local snack made of flour.
You will be spoilt by the choices of souvenirs selling in one of the stores here. Prices are negotiable up to 10% with good qualities unlike in China or SEA countries, where the seller marked up the price up to 2-3 times fold and let you start bargaining.

Funny looking robot

The opening stand flower at the art gallery

Colourful rice cakes (tteok in Korean) are also famous in Insadong. Rice cake is made of rice and a little sugar for taste.

Sometimes you could see a guy in a traditional costume playing his musical instrument

Typical looking Korean girls. It’s not what you see on TV where most of them are pretty. My colleague in Seoul told me that it’s common for female to perform cosmetic surgery. Some parents even send their children for cosmetic surgery during the long semester break, so that they have enough time to rest after the surgery.

Ssamzie Market is an art shopping center where individual stores sells ton of DIY crafted items like jewelries, accessories, clothes and etc.

Dalki means strawberry in Korean and this stall sells strawberry smoothies and some snacks. I should have tried it when I was there. Why am I so cheapskate? Darn it!!!.

Noticed the floor is going upward/downward in the square motion around the building. It’s no illusion.

Creatively designed gallery

Then I bumped into a group of youngster performing some cultural dances.

Every Sunday, there will be parade along Insadong Street.

Children in traditional costumes rode on the carriage

Every time I passed by the Starbucks, I noticed many people snapped photo at it and I still couldn’t figure out why. Then I realized that the Starbucks in Insadong was required to write their name in Hangul (Korean letters) in front of the store and it’s the only store in Korea written in Hangul. This is to keep the traditional custom in Insadong.

So most of the Sunday, if I have no plans, I will hang around or lepak-king at Insadong.

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