Insa-dong

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Insa-dong
Seoul-Insadong-01.jpg
Korean name
Hangul
Hanja
Revised Romanization Insadong
McCune–Reischauer Insadong

Insadong is a dong, or neighborhood of the Jongno-gu district of the South Korean city of Seoul. The main street is Insadong-gil, which is connected to a multitude of alleys that lead deeper into the district,[1] with modern galleries and tea shops.[2] At one time it was the largest market for antiques and artworks in Korea.[3]

In area, 12.7 hectares (or 31.4 acres),[4] the district is bordered by Gwanhun-dong to the north, Nagwon-dong to the east, and Jongno 2-ga and Jeokseon-dong to the south, and Gongpyeong-dong to the west.[5]

History[edit]

A Korean traditional porcelain store
Hand pressed papers
Buddhist sculptures in a flea market of Insadong

Insadong was originally two towns whose names ended in the syllables "In" and "Sa". They were divided by a stream which ran along Insadong's current main street. Insadong began 500 years ago as an area of residence for government officials.[6] During the early period of the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1897), the place belonged to Gwanin-bang and Gyeonpyeong-bang - bang was the name of an administrative unit during the time[7] - of Hanseong (old name for the capital, Seoul).[5] During the Japanese occupation, the wealthy Korean residents were forced to move and sell their belongings, at which point the site became an area of trading in antiques. After the end of the Korean War, the area became a focus of South Korea's artistic and cafe life.[6] It was a popular destination among foreign visitors to South Korea during the 1960s, who called the area "Mary's Alley".[8] It gained in popularity with international tourists during the 1988 Seoul Olympics.[6] In 2000 the area was renovated,[9][10] and, after protest, the rapid modernization of the area was halted for two years beginning that year.[6]

Sights[edit]

Insadong-gil is "well known as a traditional street to both locals and foreigners"[11] and represents the "culture of the past and the present".[12] It contains a mixture of historical and modern atmosphere and is a "unique area of Seoul that truly represents the cultural history of the nation."[11] The majority of the traditional buildings originally belonged to merchants and bureaucrats. Some larger residences, built for retired government officials during the Joseon period, can also be seen. Most of these older buildings are now used as restaurants or shops. Among the historically significant buildings located in the area are Unhyeongung mansion, Jogyesa - one of the most significant Korean Buddhist temples, and one of Korea's oldest Presbyterian churches.[4]

The area is well known for sightseeing, with approximately 100,000 visitors on Sundays reported in 2000.[6] Insadong is also a visiting spot for foreign dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth II and the princes of Spain and the Netherlands.[13] It contains 40 percent of the nation's antique shops and art galleries as well as 90 percent of the traditional stationery shops.[14] Particularly noteworthy is Tongmungwan,[15] the oldest bookstore in Seoul, and Kyung-in Art Gallery,[16] the oldest tea house. There are daily calligraphy demonstrations and pansori performances.[17]

Ssamzigil is also famous place of Insadong. It is a shopping mall that is concentrated in specialty stores of handcrafts. It opened in 2004.[18]

Other attractions[edit]

Unhyeon Palace, Bosingak bell pavilion, and Jongno Tower can be found in this area. Samcheongdong a nearby dong also with an art scene. One of Insadong's more recent attractions, the Asia Eros Museum, opened in 2004, and is purportedly South Korea's first museum devoted to sex.[19] There is also an express bus to the resort island of Namiseom where the popular Korean Drama Winter Sonata was filmed.

The area is on the Seoul list of Asia's 10 greatest street food cities for the gimbap, odeng, bungeoppang.[20]

Transport[edit]

In January 2013, the Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation published free guidebooks in three languages: English, Japanese and Chinese (simplified and traditional), which features eight tours as well as recommendations for accommodations, restaurants and shopping centers. These were distributed from information centers in 44 subway stations, namely Itaewon Station on line 6 and Gwanghwamun Station on line 5. The tours are designed with different themes, e.g. Korean traditional culture. Which goes from Jongno 3-ga Station to Anguk Station and Gyeongbokgung Station on line No 3 that showcases antique shops and art galleries of this area.[22]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ David Armstrong (June 3, 2007), SEOUL lives life on the edge SFGate
  2. ^ Rachel Sang-hee Han; Frances Cha (17 December 2012). "13 things you've got to do in Seoul". CNN Travel. Retrieved 26 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Moon, So-young (2009-03-10). "Something alluring stays on art street; Glimpse of Business in Seoul 38th in a series: Insadong gallery street". JoongAng Ilbo. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  4. ^ a b Kimm, Jong-soung (1996). "The Insadong District in Seoul: An Urban Design Proposal". In Davidson, Cynthia C. AnyWise. New York, N.Y.: MIT Press. pp. 100–105. ISBN 0-262-54082-7. 
  5. ^ a b "인사동 Insa-dong 仁寺洞" (in Korean). Doosan Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Krich, John (2000-04-07). "Decision to Stop Building in Insadong Triggers a Battle Over What to Save". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  7. ^ "방 坊" (in Korean). Doosan Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  8. ^ Clark, Allen D.; Donald N. Clark (1969). Seoul Past and Present: A Guide to Yi T'aijo's Capital. Seoul: Royal Asiatic Society, Korea Branch; Hollym Corporation. p. 209. 
  9. ^ "Renovated Insa-dong Avenue Beckons Popular Visitors". The Korea Times. 2000-10-17. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  10. ^ "Insa-dong Cultural Festival Brightened by Renovations". The Korea Times. 2000-10-14. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  11. ^ a b Ch'oe, Chun-sik; Chŏng-hun Pak; Chun-sŏk Pak (2005). Soul in Seoul : a cultural journey. Tong Asia. p. 122. ISBN 89-88165-56-X. 
  12. ^ Ch'oe (2005:150)
  13. ^ Ch'oe (2005:154-155)
  14. ^ Ch'oe (2005:127)
  15. ^ Ch'oe (2005:126)
  16. ^ Ch'oe (2005:131)
  17. ^ Ch'oe (2005:148)
  18. ^ "'ssamzigil' official website". 
  19. ^ Giordono, Joe (2005-07-03). "In Seoul, the Insadong experience is not to be missed". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 2009-07-08. [dead link]
  20. ^ Goldberg, Lina "Asia's 10 greatest street food cities" CNN Go. 23 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-11
  21. ^ Nilsen, Robert (2004). "Insadong". Moon Handbooks: South Korea. Avalon Travel Publishing. p. 222. ISBN 1-56691-418-3. 
  22. ^ Kwon, Sang-soo (26 January 2013). "Free guide for Seoul’s subway riders". Joongang Daily. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 

Bibliography[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]