Today was another holiday here in Korea, National Foundation Day, and of course that meant another day off from school for students. Being that it was another national holiday, a few friends and I grabbed our cameras and decided to head down to Insadong for the day.
Insadong, located in the heart of the city and neighbor to other monumental landmarks, is a must see place for tourist and locals alike. It is an important place where old but valuable traditional goods are open to the public. It’s a hot destination for those that want to taste and experience the traditional culture of Korea.
Insadong street stretches over 700 meters between Anguk subway station and Jongno 2-ga station. During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), the street was dominated by Dohwawon, a place of study for painters. The area is still a center for the arts, painters, craftsmen, and art lovers continue to set up along the narrow alleys, making it a unique place full of folk craft, pottery and paintings.
In celebration and recognition of today’s holiday, many people were dressed in Hanboks. They are traditional attire of the Korean people worn daily up until just about 100 years ago. Now, it is only worn on festive occasions or special anniversaries.
Walking through the streets of Insadong and looking through the countless antique shops along the way really puts me back to an age where simplicity was the core of everything. Before the bustling advancements of civilization and technology, people were able to make a living by creating and trading simple things.
Most of the souvenirs and trinkets were handmade items and it really shows the craftsmanship that goes into everything in order to preserve such tradition.
Along the way, we were able to stop by the Bukchon Hanok Village; surrounded by Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace and Jongmyo Shrine, Bukchon Hanok Village is home to hundreds of traditional houses, called hanok, that date back to the Joseon Dynasty. The name Bukchon, which literally translates to “northern village,” came about as the neighborhood lies north of two significant Seoul landmarks, Cheonggyecheon Stream and Jongno. Today, many of these hanoks operate as cultural centers, guesthouses, restaurants and tea houses, providing visitors with an opportunity to experience, learn and immerse in Korean traditional culture.
Personally, walking through this village made me feel like I was in a completely different world. It’s amazing to see how much change has happened over the years. Especially with such an fast growing economy such as South Korea, it’s great to see the juxtaposition of how the people used to live years ago compared to where they are now.
With everything being so modern and fast paced, it was nice to take a quiet stroll through the Hanok Village. Even in a fast paced city such as Seoul, there are still people looking back and connecting with the true roots of the country. It’s a way of preserving the country’s history but to also display the great achievements and growth that the country has gone through.