Insadong (인사동) has been the center of Korea’s artistic vibe for a long time. Now, this neighborhood of Seoul has become the synonym of a place for traditional Korean items and artworks. It still is true, but Insadong offers more than that. Let’s take a deep dive into this interesting area.
Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Take Seoul Metro (Subway) Line 1 and get off at Jongno 3(sam)-ga station (종로 3가/130). Take Exit 4 or 5 > walk for 10 minutes.
Or, take Line 3 and get off at Anguk station (안국/328). Take Exit 6 > walk for 5 minutes.
Phone: +82-2-2148-1853 (Jongno-gu Tourism Department)
Introduction to Insadong, Seoul
Some parts of Seoul represent certain businesses or industries: Yeuido for finance, Gangnam for new trends, etc. Insadong (or Insa-dong) symbolizes traditional Korean artworks and culture. Although the world has changed and Insadong is not a complete exception to this transformation, it still keeps its vibe and has been trying to cultivate a good balance between tradition and new waves. Starbucks cafe with a sign in Korean letters, Hangul, in Insadong would be a good example of the efforts.
Things To Do in Insadong, Seoul
Insadong consists of the main street, Insadonggil (or Insadong Traditional Culture Street), and numerous alleys branched from it. Each alley is filled with galleries, souvenir shops, traditional Korean tea houses, cafes, restaurants, and more.
The neighborhood is especially famous for its large collection of Korean antiques or traditional materials such as Hanji (traditional Korean paper), calligraphy items, and folk crafts. Considering Insadong’s history back to the Joseon Dynasty, it seems natural. Dohwawon was an administrative department in charge of official drawings and paintings during the Joseon Dynasty, and it was located in the current Insadong area. So culture and businesses related to Korean visual art had flourished in this region since.
The giant calligraphy sculpture, ‘Ilhoikeul geusda’ (일획을 긋다/drawing the stroke), stands at Bukinsamadang, a place hosting diverse events. The sculpture is a part of the City of Seoul’s Gallery Project intending to recreate the city’s streets and roads as an open art museum.
Insadong is one of the top destinations of Seoul for international visitors, and if you are looking for something Korean to bring back home, this would be the best place to get them. And the visitors can stop by several attractions in the area including Ssamjigil, Gyeongin Museum of Fine Art, Munjeongjeongak, and more.
Insadong has been a stage for many street artists’ performances. Insadonggil is a pedestrian-only street between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., which helps visitors to stroll and shop around. In addition to these regular performances, Insadong holds many festivals throughout the year across culture, music, and food.
Ssamzigil in Insadong, Seoul
Ssamzigil (or Ssamjigil, Ssamziegil) is one of the most famous places, if not the most famous, in Insadong. The building has a spiral type of structure surrounding the square outdoor front yard. The place is full of shops of traditional artifacts, furniture, galleries, fashion boutique, restaurants, and more.
44, Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
10:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. (Everyday)
Information Center at Insadong, Seoul
There are three information centers near Insadong.
1. The Insadong Information Center is located 100 meters west of Ssamzigil on the way to Jogyesa Temple.
Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. (Closed on Seollal and Chuseok)
The center offers hanbok rental service in addition to interpretation services and free internet access. Audio information about Korean culture in multiple languages is available as well (you need to make a reservation at least one week in advance).
2. Near exit 6 of Anguk Station. Hours: 12:00 p.m. 10 p.m.
3. At Nam Insa Madang. Hours: 10:00 a.m. 6 p.m.
Things to Do near Insadong
Insadong is located close to several popular destinations: In the next block sits Jogyesa Temple, which is the district head temple of the Jogye order in Seoul. At the south end of Insadonggil, you will find Tapgol Park, formerly Pagoda Park.
On the east side of Insadong, Unhyeongung is open to the public. This place was a royal residence of Heungseon Daewongun, the father of Emperor Gojong during the Joseon Dynasty in the 19th century. Finally, Gyeongbokgung Palace, the main royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty, is also within walking distance.