Trinkets, Murals, Souvenirs: Korean Tings in Insadong

I love how many Asian cities with deep histories are mapped out: turn left and you’ll see skyscrapers; turn right, and an ancient palace comes into view. In a city like Seoul, which is super modern and densely populated, it’s nice to see cultural areas preserved and celebrated. One neighborhood rich in cultural activities is Insadong, located in the northern part of Seoul.

I visited the area with my mom after we stepped into a temporary time machine trying on traditional Korean hanbok at the Insadong PR Center. We explored the area, which has many galleries, markets, museums, parks, food, and souvenirs.


Ssamziegil (쌈지길) Mall, a large shopping center located on the main street (Insadong-gil)

Inside the mall



The main places I shop for souvenirs in Seoul are the Express Bus Terminal and Itaewon. However, Insadong had so many unique, artisan tings that were way more special than your average Korea keychain souvenir.

I thought these were incredibly cool, especially because the girl was hand-carving them right in front of the shop! She literally took a stick from a tree and created these by hand.

So many souvenirs!

Although, the standard sock souvenir will forever be Ol’ Reliable.


You can’t go too far without running into something interesting, whether it’s this fella below or people taking a promenade in hanbok.


Not sure what the arrows say but it looks like a command to snap a photo

Insadong-gil, the main street.


Unfortunately, we didn’t go to the hanok village (traditional-style residential areas). I’ve been to one in Jeonju and while it’s neat to see these quaint village homes in the middle of a bustling metropolis, I feel like if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. One thing I wish I’d done was sit down and eat at a real restaurant (we snacked on kimbap). Oh well, there’s always next time!

He put on a whole show just to scoop some ice cream hehe.

Crepes!!! I LOVE crepes like Leslie Knope loves waffles! And yet, I didn’t get any :'(

About Atembe

Atembe is a Cameroonian-American who is exactly 27 years old (because saying "20-something" is SO 2016) and currently teaching kiddos art and English in South Korea. In her free time she's dancing, drinking too much celebrity tea, living vicariously through characters in her favorite TV comedies, or [sometimes] letting her husband Eric beat her at Wii. Catch her on Twitter or Instagram via @sothisisfate, and for a faster response, tweet her a "TAR!..."

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