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Insadong - a famous shopping area in Seoul
Insadong and the surrounding area were the residences of Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) officials, extended royal families, and the yangbanaristocratic class.
The antique art shops that were established here during the Japanese Colonial Period carried everyday items of the privileged class as these items became antiques in the face of modernity.
Since then, Insadong has been home to dozens of art galleries and antique shops. Insadong's narrow alleys branch out into all directions from one main street.
To explore the interesting places on these side alleys, it would be helpful to get a map of Insadong at one of three Tourism Information Centers that are located at the center and the two ends of the main street.
41% of Korea's antique shops. These shops display and sell quality antiques such as old paintings, ceramics, woodenware, metalware, old furniture and many other items. Among them, ceramics are found abundantly. Numerous antique shops are renowned for specific merchandise: Tongmungwan for old documents, Haedonggodoja Research Institute for ceramics, Godosa for daily utensils of the past, Dongmundang and Gonghwarang for calligraphy supplies, and Naraksil and Gayajae are famous for old furniture.
Art galleries began to settle in Insadong from the 1970's and presently account for more than 70 shops. Galleries in Insadong display and sell modern art pieces as well as antiques. The price of artworks range from a few U.S. dollars to ten thousand U.S. dollars. Exhibitions are held frequently in these galleries and give good chances for Korean artists to gather. Insa Art Center and Gyeongin Art Gallery are famous in Insadong.
Korean Traditional Clothes, Ceramics, Handicrafts and Souvenirs
Most hanbok shops in Insadong sell a simplified version of hanbok. hanbok usually costs about two hundred U.S. dollars, but the price of high-quality hanbok could go up to a few thousand U.S. dollars. Jilgyeongyi Wuriot is a famous hanbok shop. Ceramics is another popular shopping item in Insadong. Good quality ceramics have a clean color and make a pure sound when tapping it with a finger.
Bakyeongsukyo is a prominent ceramics shop which even was visited by Queen Elizabeth ¥± of England. If hanbok or ceramics are too expensive, traditional-style daily items might be a good option. Wuri Segye, Sori Hana, and Tongin Gagye are good shops to get souvenirs such as silk pouches, oriental fans or mobile phone strings. Gana Art Shop inside of Insa Art Center offers traditional high quality items. Awon Gongbang is a good shop for metal crafted products and the National Souvenir Center and Seoul Souvenir Shop are specialized souvenir shops in Insadong.
Food and Drink
Most restaurants in Insadong are on alleys near Sudo Pharmacy. (Please refer to the map of Insadong.) Traditional restaurants in Insadong serve Korean dishes cooked without synthetic seasonings in remodeled traditional Korean houses. Sanchon serves good temple food along with a traditional performance. The Restaurant Jirisan Restaurant is famous for delicious dishes that taste of Korean home cooking. Sadongmyeonok is renowned for manduguk dumpling soup, Insadong Hangari Sujebi is recognized for sujebi clear soup with wheat flakes, and Gaetmaeul Milbatjip is celebrated for kalguksu noodle soup. Yetchatjip, Gwicheon, and Jeontong Dawon located inside of Gyeongin Art Gallery are popular traditional teahouses. A fun experience in Insadong is to try hotteok Chinese stuffed pancake or ggultarae from a street vendor.