Exploring Incheon China Town

Written by on September 12, 2013 in Travel

Korea, with its growing multicultural families, foreign students and workers  has lots of places to celebrate diversity, one of them is the China Town in Incheon, just an hour away from Seoul, which makes it a perfect weekend trip.

The Incheon China Town (인천 차이나타운) was created in 1883, together with the opening of the port of Incheon and is a nice place to visit Chinese restaurants, get snacks and other goods like clothes or even furniture.

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Start your walk through China Town at the funny photo zone, featuring a dumpling and black noodles (Jajangmyeon) and make sure to snap a photo!
The streets are decorated with traditional masks from chinese plays, ornaments and paper lamps. Some walls also feature paintings of old tales and historical figures.

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One of the main attractions are the various bakeries in China Town, most of them sell tasty cookies, such as the “Gongal-bbang” (공갈빵).
“Gongal” means “something which is not really true” and the “Gongal-bbang” might look big and juicy – but in truth, this puffed up bread is filled only with air.
After buying it, you just crush it with a strike of your hand -while keeping the cookie in the plastic bag- and eat the crisp pieces.

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Since the bakeries in China Town are famous for their tasty treats, people were waiting in lines – I even waited for almost one hour to place my order!
They also sell other cakes filled with red bean paste, sweet potato or pumpkin and each of them has a different design. They are a nice treat with coffee or tea.

Another beautiful spot in China Town is the Jayu Park, where you can relax or visit the observatory toget the best view of the city of Incheon.
To get there, take these colorful stairs up to the entrance.

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Beautiful mural art can be seen on the stairs as well as on the sides, one of the artworks features traditional masks, surrounding a character  from a Beijing Opera (where female characters were usually played by males!).
There are more paintings to discover, just keep your eyes open while climbing up the stairs!

I guess, this is a great exercise after eating all the sweets at the bakery, right?
There are more stairs to climb after you pass the grand entrance! It kinda looks like the stairs are disappearing towards heaven, right?

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Make sure that you get up the observatory to get a breathtaking look over Incheon City before you climb back.
On your way back towards the streets of China Town, you can take a different route and see walls painted with stories from the Sanguozhi (or in Korean Samgukji), the legend of the three kingdoms.
Take your time to go through all paintings (if you can read Korean or Chinese), even if you are not familiar with the Sanguozhi, you’ll be able to follow the rich story.

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Most of the parts of Incheon China Town are now restaurants, but you’ll find a few other shops scattered along the way towards the great chinese paifang (entrance) which leads towards Incheon Station.

I hope you had fun, walking with me through China Town and got some ideas for your own visit!

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How to get there: Take the Seoul Subway Line No. 1 and get off at Incheon Station. Walk 3 minutes towards the grand gateway to China Town.

What to do: Try “gongal-bbang”, black noodles (Jajangmyeon) and visit Jayu Park!

Attention: If you visit Incheon China Town during the summer, make sure to bring a bottle of water.
The streets are getting incredibly hot and the sun burns!

Hot tip: There is a car-free day every saturday & sunday between 10:00-18:00.

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About the Author

Dorothea Suh

Dorothea Suh is a PhD student in ethnomusicology and wayfarer. She researches oral traditions of East Asia, loves her violin, Korea and good coffee. You can find her on Twitter as @Novemberbeetle