I’ve been living in Korea for over two years now, but for some strange reason, I’ve never written about my neighborhood. So here it is, Jeongja-dong in Bundang-gu.
For those who are not familiar, I should explain what “-dong” and “-gu” means. Korea is divided into a number of provinces and these are denoted with the suffix “-do”. Each province comprise several cities “-si” which are then divided into districts “-gu” and even smaller neighborhoods “-dong”. My full address for example would then be Gyeonggi-do, Seongnam-si, Bundang-gu, Jeongja-dong followed by the apartment name and number. Korea also has a postal code system, although it isn’t used that much here.
Tell any local you live in Bundang and you’ll probably get a raised eyebrow because Bundang has a reputation for being one of the wealthiest districts in the Gyeonggi province. Unlike many parts of the Greater Seoul which developed naturally over the years, Bundang was designed mainly as a residential district from the onset and built according to a detailed grid with streets that are laid out clearly, swanky high-rise apartment buildings and officetels, as well as several parks.
Aside from its affluent status, Bundang is also known for its Cafe Street in Jeongja which is lined with numerous small fancy restaurants serving anything from Japanese to Italian, quaint cafes where you could unknowingly waste the entire afternoon, and boutique fashion stores on both sides of the street.
So Bundang is to Seongnam what Gangnam is to Seoul. Some would call it mini Gangnam.
It takes only about 10 minutes tops to stroll leisurely from one end of the street to the other. But the sheer number of restaurants and cafes makes it impossible to explore the area in a day unless you can stomach for multiple meals and coffee. Expect to pay anything between 15,000 won to 50,000 won for a meal here.
Running parallel to the Cafe Street is the Seongnam Daero which stretches from Moran Station all the way to Ori Station (Jeongja Station is one stop before Ori) and the Tancheon River, a small tributary which runs all the way to the main Han River in downtown Seoul.
The Tancheon River splits Jeongja down the middle and is lined with many bridges that connects both sides of the neighborhood. It also has running paths and bike tracks that can take you all the way into Seoul. In summer, the public pool area is also open and, on a good day, you’d see many families out in full force with their tents for a pseudo camping experience.
Getting to and from Jeongja (or Bundang) is a breeze given this is chiefly a residential district. On the Shinbundang subway, it takes a mere 14 minutes to get from Jeongja Station to Gangnam Station in Seoul. Jeongja Station is also the connecting station to the main Bundang subway line.
The subway is complemented with a robust bus network that takes you almost anywhere in Seoul and a service line that ferries you to Incheon International Airport and the domestic Gimpo Airport.
The two main expressways that serve the area are the Seoul-Yongin Expressway and the Gyeongbu Expressway. With little traffic, it takes only 20 minutes to drive north to Seoul, or 15 minutes south to Suwon (where my workplace is).
Well, that’s about it for my neighborhood, and home in Jeongja.