For Korean Thanksgiving, Cheosok, I was given Wednesday through Friday off work, which made for an extra long vacation weekend. So, I decided to catch a train up to Seoul! We saw a lot of amazing things and enjoyed a free student tour of the Gyeongbokgung Palace. We also ate some great food, but the best part of Seoul for me was shopping in the more traditional Insadong district. There were many arts and crafts stores to discover there, along with tourist shops full of Korea magnets and mugs.
Posing with my newly purchased Korean fan in front of Insadong's main shopping complex
As I stopped at nearly every store and stall on Insa-dong Street, my friends were worried we would never make it to the main drag, Ssamzie-gil, a spiraling shopping complex with four floors and a great rooftop view.
View from the third floor, people were eating duk for Chuseok under the painted fabric hangings
We did make it though, and there were a lot more shops to explore! Each of the shops sold arts and crafts like jewelry and hats, and reminded me a lot of the online stores of Etsy, a store I guiltily browse all the time back in the states.
A sampling of the shops; cat accessories, jewelry, bags, etc.
They have everything here! And it is mostly made by local artists and other crafty people.
Up to the top, through the gate of love locks to a coffee shop
Continuing up the spiral walkway will lead you to the roof, and to a lot of luggage tags inscribed with couple's proclamations of love and forgiveness. It's really cute, and if you look you can find several in English! A lot of them have adorable couple photos too.
If you're sick of reading love notes, you can turn around and eat poop. That is, a delicious red bean filled pastry in the shape of a poo! It is actually quite tasty and even more hilarious.
Snacks back down at the bottom!
If you're not into the poo-shaped treats, you can find another awesome snack in Insadong. Down the road from Ssamsie-gil is a place that sells action figures and amazing ice cream in a horn cone. It's very refreshing, fun to eat, and only 3,000 won, or around $3.
Creating a snack, Duk, or Tteok, for Chuseok
If you're not in the mood for ice cream, you can try making your own snack! Sometimes they have demonstrations back on the bottom floor of Ssamsie-gil about how to create some Korean traditional foods. This time, it was duk, a Korean chewy rice snack made by pounding rice with a large mallet. It took me several tries to actually hit the rice correctly, but the crowd cheered when I finally succeeded, so it was worth it!
All that shopping can leave one exhausted, and there is a place for exhaustion in Insadong too, Korean traditional tea shops! There are a lot of them lining the streets, usually you take stairs up to the second floor of a building and can look out at the busy Insa-dong Street below. They all smell amazing, and provide the perfect end to a shopping excursion.
Last view of Insadong, from the top of an art gallery nearby
To get to Insadong take the subway to Anguk Station (Line 3) and walk straight out of Exit 6, take your first left to start experiencing Insadong, and have a great time!
After graduating from Emerson College with a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing, Ariel Rosen looked back on the semester she spent traveling around Europe and decided she must explore Asia. Her teaching job with ChungDahm April in Busan allows her to experience South Korea firsthand and with the bright enthusiasm of all the children she teaches. She is overjoyed to share a class with them and finds herself learning more from them and the beach city around her everyday.
Read Ariel’s blog here: http://arieldrosen.wordpress.com/