Friday, October 24, 2014

Of Exquisite Artistry: The Streets of Insadong

The rotunda going to Insadong.

One of the street art pieces in Insadong.
In the heart of Seoul, there is this enclave for artists called Insadong.

Inhabitants first came to the area 500 years ago but came only to prominence as arts hub after the Korean war.
 
Every tourist in Seoul are being brought by their guide to Insadong to buy some souvenirs or "tidbits" of Korea.
 
The main road is lined with shops with various arts or souvenir offerings.
 
One can find paintings made by Korean painters as well as calligraphic writings. There are a number of art galleries in the area and you can find tools for painting or calligraphy. 
 
There are ceramic vessels on sale mostly for home decors or tea preparation. 
 
The road is dotted with food cart vendors selling barbeque sausages, Korean sweets, grilled nuts, bondaegi, etc. At one time there was even a stall selling alcoholic beverages, jacoke being an example. 
 
When you visit a souvenir shop you can find there a lot of souvenirs to buy. You'll find key chains, plates, Korean dolls, Korean bell (bosingak), fridge magnet and stuff toys wearing hanbok (Korean costume).
 
There are also souvernir shops which sells Korean dining utensils as well as placemats and table runners.
 
The main road branch to several alleys and on these alleys you can find restaurants, some are pricey and some are affordable.
 
If you are fond of drinking tea, there is a shop named "Tea Museum." In there you can find variety of finest Korean tea. Their offering ranges from ginseng tea to the world famous Jeju Tea. 
A mural in one of Insadong alleys depicting rural
scene with cockfighting.
Free hug during Labor Day.
Sometimes, there are cultural presentations on the Tapgol side of the main road. You can see there performances of colorful Korean dances as well as traditional martial arts.  

Performance of Korean martial arts at the Tapgol side
of Insadong main road.
Within this area, you can also find guesthouses, which are typical accommodation for tourists. It will cost you USD 40 to USD 50 per day. This is a good place to stay because it is right in the city center and very near to touristy places such as Bukchon Hanok Village, Gwanghwamun, Gyeongbok Palace, etc.
 
Usually, the main road of Insadong is very busy on weekends as well as on public holidays. If you are on a tour, it is best to visit late afternoon during weekdays.

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