Spring promenade in Seoul’s best-kept ‘secret’

Written by on March 31, 2011 in Arts, Lifestyle, Travel

Spring is coming along slowly but surely. The freezing weather that had gripped the Korean peninsula for SO LONG has finally begun to relent, making the outdoors an attractive destination. Oh yes, spring has returned, indeed. Here comes April, come what ‘May’.

If you feel like wandering around without knowing exactly which direction you are heading to, or tempted to fully embrace spring winds and dazzling sunshine – to an extent you may even want to bear somewhat pleasantly-annoying fuzz on the tip of your nose – here is a perfect destination for you: Seochon, Seoul’s hidden jewel.

The west gate of Gyeongbokgung (Gyeongbok Palace)

This small district in Jongno-gu across the west gate of Gyeongbokgung (Gyeongbok Palace) remains relatively unknown even to a majority of Seoulites despite its location adjacent to the most famous landmark of the city. While its neighbor Samcheong-dong witnessed a shifting landscape and started to lose some of its sparkle, overshadowed by a reckless influx of “affluent” global brands and big-name café transplants, Seochon managed to hold on to its identity and maintain its own charm.

Excellent coffee and great atmosphere

Take a look inside mk2

The area has kept a remarkably unique character and rich artistic culture in the span of its few blocks. Things may be less “fancy” perhaps, as oldie hardware stores and small supermarkets are still present in Seochon’s street corners. However, its peculiar spider-web alleys and small lanes are filled with the refined combination of beautiful Korean traditional houses (Hanok, 한옥), and less crowded small restaurants and galleries, making a distinct impression while providing pure amusement to those full of curiosity.

A bicycle parked along the alleyway is all that it takes to complete a scenery

The exhibition continues on the second floor

Seochon is also an ideal place where people can take a rest and appreciate the calm away from the bustle of the city. While walking in this cozy district of Seochon and sensing the scent of spring filling the air, you cannot possibly resist spring fever.


Yayoi Kusama’s sculpture at Jean Art Center

In case you are still reading this blog post – haven’t you stepped out towards Seochon, yet? – put on your spring jacket and discover Seoul’s best-kept secret in your own way! Taking a stroll through Seochon’s maze of alleys and being amazed could be one of the best possible ways to greet the long-awaited season.

Cats living on the roofs of Korean traditional houses in Tongui-dong

* How to get to Seochon by public transportation:
Take subway line 3 and get off at Gyeongbokgung Station. As you get out through exit 4, turn around and walk straight up until you see the stone walls of Gyeongbokgung. Turn left and walk towards the direction of the presidential residence Cheong Wa Dae and start your own journey from there.


About the Author

Dana Hwang

Dana specializes in contemporary art and culture, and has contributed to the Korea.net as a staff writer. As a Master of Arts graduate in Art Business from the Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York and a prior retail executive of Louis Vuitton Korea, she is particularly interested in corporations’ commitment to promote art and culture, the role of audience in contemporary art practice, and discovering new cultures while travelling around the world