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August 6, 2017

A Girl's Guide to Seoul's University Quarter, Part 2: Sinchon

This is the second part of a two-part series of a walking tour through Seoul's university neighborhoods. To read Part 1: Edae, click here.

Sinchon at night | © Sami Paju / Flickr
From Hello apM in Edae, pass Sinchon Railway Station, which separates Ewha Women’s University and Yonsei University, and is the oldest railway station in Seoul.

Originally intended to be a whistle-stop along the Gyeongui Line connecting Seoul and Sinuiju (a city in present-day North Korea), the station was constructed in 1920. After the two Koreas were divided, the station became the departure site to Munsan, a city near the Military Demarcation Line. Although the station was shut down years later, it still stands as a symbol of Sinchon’s historical importance and operates as a tourism office today.

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Peek inside Sinchon Station to see photographs of the past and present area. They may remind Yoo Yeon-seok fans of Reply 1994, as the area was the setting for the majority of the nostalgic drama, which featured a soundtrack that was heavily praised.

Ice, Ice Baby

As is the case for most cuisine, dishes are most delicious when ingredients are fresh and flavors are simple. Unlike most bingsu (shaved ice) joints, which serve ostentatious and often outrageous combinations of the dessert, Homilbat (호밀밭) has stuck to the basics and, as the line out the front door proves, has had great success in doing so.

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With only a few options, Homilbat is most known for its deconstructed Milk Bingsu, which consists of powder-like ice mixed with condensed milk and is served with a sweet, homemade red bean paste made from beans sourced from Korea. Distinctively fresher than the canned beans most other places use, Homilbat’s beans are addicting and memorable.

A few doors down does a less traditional twist on the summer sweet. Towering almost a foot high, Pop Container’s (팝컨테이너) Oreo Bingsu is a mountain of ice shavings, ice cream and finely ground Oreo powder. Its comfortable seating area of overstuffed beanbags invites sharing, which is a must considering the portion sizes of its desserts.

Swing into the alley across from the Changchun Methodist Church and keep an eye out for Little Cuba, Korea's first and finest Cuban restaurant. Run by Cuban native Augusto Cesar Calzadilla, this place serves up classic dishes and has a pub-like atmosphere, complete with continuous screenings of passionate Latino musical performances.

Although most well known for its Cuban Sandwich, stuffed with ham, cheese and pickles, Little Cuba has a great selection of authentic comida. Try the ropa vieja, a flavorful dish of shredded flank steak which comes with congri (mixed rice and beans) and a salad, along with one of the rum-based cocktails. The mojitos are only available in the summer, when Augusto uses home-grown Cuban mint in the cocktails. This is about as close to Cuba as you’ll get in Asia. (Note: Little Cuba is temporarily closed as of August 2017. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for reopening information.)

The Sounds of Sinchon

Stop by Zado Ranking Shop, one of the few markets in the area that sells microbrews, and a fairly good number of them, at that. The place also carries a wide variety of international snacks, microwaveable meals and freshly baked bread and desserts. Bring your beer down to the Sinchon rotary, which starts to pick up in the early evening.

Here, hop aboard the Sinchon PlayBus, the coolest looking information kiosk in the city. Inside, friendly volunteers are more than willing to make restaurant recommendations or answer travel questions, but the unique feature about this booth is that it was established to bring locals and visitors together through music.

It features a DJ Box, where live broadcasts feature hit songs from the 70s, 80s and 90s from a collection of 150 albums.

Hanging on the walls are nostalgic images that convey the stories of Sinchon’s beginnings as not only an area of education and music, but also one that was at the center of the student-led pro-democracy movement of the 1980s. It’s also a popular place for street artists in the evenings, so stop by to catch a free performance.

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Fast forward to present day. KakaoTalk is hands-down the most widely used mobile instant messaging app in Korea and since its launch in 2010 has accumulated over 140 million users and is available in 15 languages. It has attracted a cult following not only with its expansive services, but with its adorable characters that can be sent as oversized emoticons.

Even those who have never used the app will appreciate the Kakao Friends Store, where images of the app’s characters including Muzi & Con, Neo, Frodo, Tube, Apeach and Jay-G are featured on stationary, accessories and other gift items.

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Galbi Gone Wild

If you haven’t tried it yet, Seo-seo Galbi is the best place in Seoul to try galbi (marinated ribs). In fact, it’s so good that despite it being the only thing on the menu and there not being a single chair in the entire place, the restaurant almost always sells out by early evening.

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This no-frills establishment which started as a popular spot with truck drivers has been around for almost half a century and serves quality, fantastically marinated hanu (Korean beef), which pairs perfectly with a bottle of soju. Get here early, be prepared to stand and get ready for one of the best barbeque experiences to be had in all of the city.

Or, if burgers are more of your thing, head to Yaletown Burgers and Bar, a sports bar that serves up juicy burgers and a mean plate of curly fries. Adored by expats and locals alike, the venue is a great spot for groups, complete with a pool table, beer pong and numerous board games - not to mention plenty of TVs showing the big game.

After dinner, it’s time to explore Sinchon’s nightlife.

If you’re up for a game of pool or darts, 900PUB has both, along with arcade games and a DJ booth to liven up the atmosphere. It’s also a good place to sip on affordable cocktails and party the night away, just as Kim Tan (Lee Min-ho) and Cha Eun-sang (Park Shin-hye) did in The Heirs when the drama was filmed here.

Or, for something a bit more laid back, head to Damotori. Established in 1987, this popular watering hole has catered to university students for two decades, and still exudes a 1990s feel. In addition to boasting a nostalgic atmopshere, the DJ also takes requests, and plays anything from protest songs to the pop hits of the era.

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You can conclude your night out with a round of noraebang at one of the area’s many karaoke bars or head to nearby Hongdae for some dancing. But, chances are you will probably have shopped, eaten and partied so much that you’ll require a good night’s sleep. Hail a cab, or take the subway at Sinchon Station, just a few blocks away.

More Information

To Get There: Take the Seoul subway to Ewha Womans University Station (Line 2, Exit 3).
More Neighborhoods Like This: Hongdae; Gangnam Station
Nearby Neighborhoods: Seodaemun; Hongdae; Yeonnam-dong

Words by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized. 

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July 9, 2017

Korean Onomatopoeia: The Fun Korean Words

The Korean language contains many words that are based on onomatopoeia, which is the sound associated with an object or action. The Korean word for onomatopoeia is heeseongeo (의성어), but don't worry about remembering it... it's rarely used. In fact, if you use the word with Koreans, then they might assume that you are talking about some kind of fish! So let's take a closer look at a few of them.

Note: This article contains Hangul (Korean letters). If you can't read Korean yet, download a free guide here to start reading in about 60 minutes!! 

Learning the onomatopoeic Korean words might sound like an easy way to improve your Korean ability, but it's not as easy as it might seem. This is because the sounds that Koreans associate with something can be very different from the sounds that English speakers associate with the same object or action.

Take animals, for instance. What sound does a dog make? In English, people might say "woof, woof" but in Korean, "멍멍 (meong-meong)." Clearly these are very different. Cats, in English, go "meow, meow"; in Korean, "야옹 (ya-ong)." Korean pigs sound, "꿀꿀꿀 (ggul-ggul-ggul)" whereas in English, "oink-oink." Ducks in Korea go "곽곽 (quack-quack)", and in English... well, actually that one happens to be the same.

In some cases, the Korean name of certain animals is based on the sound that they make, which makes it easier for learners of Korean to remember the names of such animals. Frogs in Korean are called ê°œêµ¬ë¦¬ (gaeguri) and the sound that they make is "개굴개굴 (gaegul-gaegul)" while owls are called ë¶€ì—‰ì´ (bu-ong-i) and make a "부엉부엉 (bu-ong-bu-ong)" sound when they hoot.

Other Animal Sounds

구구 (koo-koo) – the sound of a pigeon
음메 (ummeh) – the sound of a cow or sheep
찍찍 (chik-chik) – the sound of a mouse squeaking
히잉 (hi-ing) – the sound of a horse
깎깎 (ggakk-ggakk) – the caw of a raven
꼬끼오 (kkokki-oh) – the sound of a rooster in the morning (and my personal fav!)

These animal sounds are useful for demonstrating how onomatopoeias work in Korea. For example, they show that the sound is often repeated (meong-meong or gaegul-gaegul, for instance) and that the names of objects can be based on the sounds that those objects make (like owls and frogs).

Jay Park did a great parodoy of "What Does the Fox Say" on a past episode of Korea's SNL. Check it out below and see if you can't catch a few of the animal sounds (including that of the legendary gumiho).

But learning about animal sounds is only really useful if you are a hunter (unlikely) or if you want to try and talk to an animal in a zoo (assuming that they are a native Korean animal... llamas and armadillos would most likely speak in Spanish). Instead, let’s learn some useful onomatopoeia that we can use on a daily basis.

Crashing and Explosive Sounds

ë¹µ (bbang) – the bang of a gun (and, coincidentally enough, the word for bread)
꽝 (ggwang) – a crashing sound (also the sound made when you lose a game)
쿵  (kung) – the sound of a thud

Sounds from Speech or Bodily Actions

짝짝짝 (jjakjjakjjak) – clapping sound (often used in chants at sports matches)
음 (eum) – ummmm…..
쉿 (shwit) – shhhh, "Be quiet please," or "Shut up!" if used more forcefully
하하하 (hahaha) – laughing
아야 (a-ya) – Ouch! 
엉엉 (eong-eong) – crying
잉잉 (ing-ing) - whimpering
에취 (eh-chwi) – Achoo!
쪽 (jjok) – kissing sound (you can use this if you want to kiss someone on the cheek)
드르렁드르렁 (duh-ruh-reong-duh-ruh-reong) – snoring
치카치카 (chika-chika) – the sound of someone brushing their teeth
두근두근 (du-geun-du-geun) – the sound of the heart beating. 

If you are talking about your crush, or a situation that gets your heart beating, then you can say ë‘ê·¼ë‘ê·¼ to describe your feelings. You may have heard ë‘ê·¼ë‘ê·¼ used in K-pop songs.

Sounds Made by Objects

딩동 (ding-dong) – doorbell
똑똑 (ddok-ddok) – knock, knock
빵빵 (bbang-bbang) – car honking
부릉부릉 (bu-reung-bu-reung) – car engine revving 
칙칙폭폭 (chikchik-pokpok) – train 
삐뽀삐뽀 (bbibbo-bbibbo) – police or firetruck siren

Sounds Made in Nature

콸콸 (kwal-kwal) – bubbling stream water
솔솔 (sol-sol) – leaves on a gentle breeze
활활 (hwal-hwal) – a burning fire
쨍쨍 (jjaeng-jjaeng) – a blazing sun
추록추록 (chu-rok-chu-rok) – falling raindrops
우르릉 (oo-ruh-rung) – the rumbling of an earthquake or landslide
휭휭 (hwing-hwing) – the wind
철썩철썩 (cholssok-cholssok) – splashing

The most interesting types of Korean onomatopoeias are descriptive sounds. These sounds represent feelings that might not even make an actual sound. For example, the feeling of warmth can be given the sound ë”°ëˆë”°ëˆ (ttaggeun-ttaggeun). They often sound similar to the corresponding Korean verb for that feeling, for example "따끈따끈" sounds a little but similar to ë”°ëœ»í•˜ë‹¤ (ttatteuthada, to be warm). Using these descriptive onomatopoeias will make you sound more Korean and help you show your emotions and feelings more clearly in Korean.

Descriptive Sounds

따끈따끈 (ttaggeun-ttaggeun) – a feeling of warmth
방글방글 (banggeul-banggeul) – to smile beamingly
반짝반짝 (banjjak-banjjak) – to be glittering or sparkling
미끌매끌 (mikkeul-maekkeul) – to be slippery, taken from ë¯¸ë„럽다 (mikkeuropda, to be slippery)
올긋볼긋 (olgeut-bolgeut) – to be many colors / picturesque
보들보들 (bodeul-bodeul) – soft and cuddly
뽀글뽀글 (bogeul-bogeul) – the bubbling of boiling water

Tips and Tricks

Learning onomatopoeic words can be difficult, especially if you try and remember them using a regular method such as flashcards. This is because so many of the onomatopoeic words sound similar compared to other Korean words. They are spelled out as they would sound, so contain far more double consonants.

The best method to learn these words is by trying to listen to them naturally. A fun way to learn the words in this article might be to draw a cartoon and write out the onomatopoeia on the that represents the sounds in the illustration, such as a knock on the door, a gunshot, or a villain slipping on a banana skin. 

Reading manhwa (만화, Korean comics) is also a good way to learn Korean onomatopoeia, as actions and sounds are often written out next to the illustrations. Of course, there are thousands of onomatopoeic words in Korean to match the thousands of sounds in real-life. Learning all of them is too big a task to take on at once, so learn the ones that you think that you will use regularly and find most useful.

What is your favorite Korean onomatopoeic word? Leave it in the comments box below.

In the meantime, check out Seoul Searching's Facebook page to enter a contest to win one of three Korean language scholarships at 90 Day Korean.

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July 6, 2017

Dog Friendly Seoul: The Best Spots to Visit with Your Furry Friend

In the past, dog ownership was fairly rare in South Korea. Over the past few years, however, it has become increasingly common, if not the norm for urban-dwelling Seoulites. Taking advantage of the recent pet craze, many entrepreneurs have struck gold with their dog-centric businesses ranging from puppy cafes to pet clothing stores. Furthermore, Seoul-based enterprises ranging from hotels to restaurants have also begun to cater to canines and their humans.

So, if you’re looking to explore the city and take Fido along with you, these are the best places to do it.

© Igor Putina / Flickr

Dog Cafes & Hotels

Urban Dog

A pristine 100-square-meter, dog-only swimming pool, a commodious pet hotel and modern exercise equipment are the highlights of the Urban Dog pet café near Nambu Bus Terminal. While the café definitely delivers a fun experience for small and mid-sized dogs, their biggest priority is safety and comfort. The staff go out of their way to keep the environment clean while security cameras provide an extra measure of safety. The facility offers complimentary training services every Wednesday.

Sangsang Puppy Café

If your pup is in need of a play date, head on over to Sangsang Puppy Café in Hongdae. This well-organized café is divided into three sections: the entrance, the meeting room and the play room. Upon entering, you and your pet are given the chance to get used to the other dogs at the café in the meeting room. Once your pup is comfortable, you can move on to the playroom, where cleanliness is of the utmost importance. Sangsang also offers pet hotel services and training programs. An admission fee of 8,000 won gets humans a free drink.

Offering day care, hotel services and training programs, this Haebangchon pet café is a popular spot for expats and their canine companions. Other popular services at Pet Ground include their self-grooming station and… wait for it… a photo studio. Because even dogs deserve to look their best on Instagram.

27-3, Yongsan-dong 2ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea; +82-2-749-9990; Mon 6pm-10pm, Tues-Fri 3pm-10pm, Sat-Sun, Holidays 1pm-10pm

Dog-Friendly Parks

DaDogDaDog Park (다독다곡)

Big dogs in particular will love this spacious dog park, café and shop in Pangyo. Divided into two sections – one for large dogs, the other for smaller ones – the grassy park offers lots of room to run around. Admission costs 7,000 won per human and small dogs, and 10,000 won for big dogs. DaDogDaDog does not require any additional purchases, and you can bring your own food, as long as you eat it outside the gated fields. A friendly staff is on hand to ensure both you and your four-legged friends have a good time, and continuously offer water and poop bags. Although slightly outside of Seoul and not extremely accessible by public transportation, it’s definitely worth checking out.

242 Haogae-ro Bundang-gu, Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-do South Korea, Open daily 10am-7pm

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Joy Dog

This “total dog solution provider” located just twenty minutes outside of Gangnam is the stuff dreams are made of – dog dreams, that is. Catering to small and medium-sized dogs, Joy Dog (admission 7,000 won for each person and dog) boasts a spacious park where dogs can roam freely while their owners can enjoy a beverage in the air-conditioned café. There’s even a dog pool that can be accessed for an additional 10,000 won. Check out their website for more information about their English-language training programs.

Seoul City Public Dog Parks

Seoul has three public, leash-free dog parks – at Seoul Children's Grand Park, Peace Park at World Cup Park and Boramae Park – where pups can enjoy various facilities such as clean, open spaces; mini hurdles; and a variety of toys. Open from March to November, dogs and their humans can enjoy the parks free of charge. Owners are required to have their dogs registered with the Animal Protection Management System to use the parks.

Dog-Friendly Restaurants


As Hapjeong’s most celebrated dog-friendly restaurant, Patio.D is loved by humans and canines alike. While there are dog-restricted areas, the establishment boasts a spacious rooftop where dogs are free to roam. Owners are required to bring along potty pads – but if you do forget, you can purchase some at the restaurant. Menu items worth sampling (for humans, of course) are the Pesto Genovese Pasta (18,000 won) with fresh basil sauce and the Lobster Rose Pasta (24,000 won). Their homemade burgers are also very tasty.

5-6, Eoulmadang-ro 5-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +82-2-333-9645; Open Mon-Thurs 12pm-12am, Fri-Sun 12pm-2am

The Royal Food and Drink

This tiny bistro perched at the top of Haebangchon is one of the best spots in the city to do brunch. Their Green Breakfast (10,000 won) is a healthy mix of veggies, pesto, egg and toast, while their Guacamole Breakfast bagel (9,000 won) pairs perfectly with their savory-spicy Bloody Mary. But what makes The Royal Food and Drink so great for dog owners is the fact that the staff welcome furry friends with welcome arms. It’s also located right at the base of Namsan, making it a great pit stop during a walk on Seoul’s iconic mountain.

37 Sinheung-ro 20-gil Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea; +82-70-7774-4168; Open Tues-Sun 10am-10pm

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Behind Yellow

Perhaps the most well-known dog-friendly restaurant in southern Seoul, Behind Yellow not only serves up tasty dishes for humans, but also offers some fantastic services for their four-legged friends. The bistro boasts a small terrace with four tables dedicated to those with a canine companion. They also offer comfy dog seats with railings to ensure dog safety. Dogs of all sizes are welcome, but those with medium and large builds must be kept on a leash at all times. Humans will love the restaurant’s Roast Beef Gorgon (19,000 won), a rich pasta made with beef tenderloin and gorgonzola. For something more sharable, opt for their pizza.

125-17, Nonhyeon-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea, +82-2-3443-8488, Open daily 11am-11pm (Weekday break time 3pm-5:30pm)

Dog-Friendly Bars

Southside Parlor

Southside Parlor has over the past few years made a name for itself as one of the best cocktail bars in the city, thanks to its exceptional service and artisanal cocktails that incorporate creative mixtures of local, seasonal ingredients. More recently, the bar began hosting Puppy Happy Hour on Thursday evenings on their rooftop, which provides great views of the Itaewon area. Enjoy happy hour cocktail specials from 6-7:30 and wine specials from 6-11. Just remember to BYOPB (bring your own poop bags).  

Located in glitzy Sinsa-dong, Bichon Pocha is so popular among dog lovers that the entire bar is crowded with pooches of every size and breed at just about any given time. This Korean-style bar which serves up drinking food such as spicy stir-fried pork (20,000 won) and steamed octopus (35,000 won) and is open until the wee hours of the morning, meaning you and your pup can party together until the sun comes up.

Dog-Friendly Shops

Starfield Mall

Starfield Mall, just outside of Seoul in Gyeonggi Province, is South Korea’s first dog-friendly shopping mall. The mega-mall operated by Shinsegae Group allows visitors to take their dogs with them into select shops (designated by a sticker at the door) rather than require they put their pets inside carrier bags, which is the norm at most shopping facilities. Dogs will particularly enjoy Molly’s Pet Shop, a gigantic store that sells dog beds, clothes and toys, and even has a freezer section of high-quality raw pet foods. Nearby, Siheung Premium Outlets boasts a pet park on the first floor.

Dog-Friendly Hotels

Hotel Cappuccino

If you’re traveling in Seoul (or simply partaking in a staycation), Hotel Cappuccino in Gangnam is one of the many places willing to happily accept up to two of your dogs (under 10 kilograms). Their Bark Rooms are equipped with wooden floors, a pet bed, toys, oral hygiene products and a night gown for your pup. They also prepare pet food without salt or preservatives. A percentage of the proceeds from the Bark Rooms is donated to the Korean Animal Rights Advocates organization.

Sheraton Seoul Palace Gangnam Hotel

Pamper your pup with the “Love that Dog” package at the Sheraton Seoul Palace Gangnam Hotel. For around 150,000 won per night (plus an additional 120,000 won cleaning fee), you can enjoy an evening with your furry friend in a deluxe triple room with a balcony, the use of a Sheraton Sweet Sleeper bed, stainless steel water and food bowls as well as a complimentary welcome dog kit. Dogs (under 10 kilograms) should be on a leash or in a carrier when outside of the room, but can still enter the restaurants and bars.

Four Seasons Hotel Seoul

If your dog is truly a VIP and only deserving of the best, head on over to the Four Seasons Hotel Seoul in downtown Seoul. Small dogs can enjoy premium amenities such as an embroidered toy bone, name tag, sleeping mat, no-skid dog bowl and feeding mattress – for a hefty 250,000 won per night.


If you don’t have the cash to splurge on a fancy hotel (of either the dog- or human-accommodating variety), check out the Pet Sitting Network – South Korea Facebook group. This network of English-speaking, animal-loving Seoul residents offer their services for free or a nominal fee or deposit.

A number of the PSN members are also active in the Animal Rescue Korea network, a valuable resource for those looking to adopt, find help for abandoned animals, and get/offer pet care advice.

Busy and need someone to keep an extra eye on your pooch, or take your furry friend out for a walk? VVeWalk offers a number of services for an affordable price.

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Or, if you’re simply looking to meet up with other dog-lovers or perhaps arrange a play date for your furry friend, check out the Namsan Dog Pack group on Facebook, where you can find loads of information about dog ownership in Korea. Their members (and their dogs) also meet up regularly at various dog-friendly locations around the Namsan area.

Which dog-friendly Seoul locales did I miss? Leave them in the comments below!


Words by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized. 
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July 3, 2017

The Ultimate Guide to Myeongdong, Seoul's Shopping Mecca

As the familiar hues of nightfall spill across the skies, herds of tourists flood into the streets of Myeongdong. 6.8 million of them a year, to be exact.

Neon starts to flash overhead, filling the streets with an instantly recognizable buzz, barely audible over the rhythmic beats of K-pop that blare from hidden speakers. Shop assistants clap violently and shout out, effortlessly switching their sales pitches from Chinese to Japanese to English and back again, luring in wide-eyed visitors with free face masks and samples of eye cream. Wafts of sausage-scented smoke rolls through the alleys, while Seoul Tower peeks through the small crevices of space in between of shopping centers.

Myeongdong shopping crowds | © el_ave / Flickr
Myeongdong doesn’t feel like Korea. In fact, it has become so popular with Chinese tourists that the majority of signage and sales transactions are in Mandarin. It’s not a place to go to see the real Seoul. What it is good for, however, is shopping, unique street food, and sensory overload, in the best way possible. So, if you seek any of these three things, be sure to spend an evening—when the place really comes alive—in Myeongdong.

Shop Hop & Cute Coffee

Whether you’re on the lookout for funky accessories, imitation bags, high-end leather goods or cheap boots, you’ll find it all here. As a general rule of thumb, the bigger stores on the main streets are more well known, whereas the small alleys that connect them offer the best bargains.
During the annual Korea Grand Sale, which is usually held for about two months, international visitors can enjoy a number of discounts from over 135 participating vendors. Myeongdong is usually at the center of the sale, so if you happen to be in the neighborhood, be sure to take advantage of all the benefits.

Despite the area’s high concentration of international fashion franchises and countless independent boutiques, the neighborhood’s SPA brands are perhaps the most-visited. Short for "specialty retailer of private label apparel," Korea's SPA brands offer stylish, ever-changing collections at affordable prices, with a generally better quality than foreign SPA brands such as Forever 21 or H&M. For this reason, a number of them are included in this walk.

For basics and staples in simple styles for both men and women, check out the classic but colorful apparel of SPAO. Offering everything from shoes to jeans to insulating innerwear, SPAO has you covered. Fans of Girls Generation, EXO and Super Junior should check out the Amusement Zone on the fourth floor, where photos, posters and CDs of SM Entertainment artists are sold.

As its name suggests, the Hello Kitty Cafe franchise is a tribute to the world's cutest cat (err… British school girl) and her furry friends, and is a mecca for girly girls. These cafes are super feminine, covered in pinks and pastels and offer a nice variety of cakes and drinks, all of which are decorated with the famous feline's face. Even the bathrooms are decked out in pastels!

The Myeongdong location is located right in the thick of things, and is a good place to take a shopping break. When you’re ready to hit the streets again, check out the vendors in the adjacent alley for ridiculously affordable bags and shoes.

Authentic Cuisine to Culture Class

If you aren’t able to get down to Jeonju during your trip in Korea, you can sample the bibimbap that the city is famous for at Gogung. The restaurant, which originally opened in 1971, with its Myeongdong branch established in 1999, imports many of its ingredients from the southwestern city to ensures that its dish, which incorporates bellflower roots, jujubes, gingko nuts and hot pepper paste, among others, tastes like the real thing.

Although you may not want to destroy the perfect presentation of the pretty dish, it’s recommended that you use the chopsticks to mix the ingredients to maintain the proper shape and texture of the ingredients. The wait staff, who are dressed in hanbok, and the traditional atmosphere add to the experience, making Gogung stand out from the less charming eateries of the neighborhood.

If you time your visit right, there might just be a cultural class or event on at the Seoul Global Cultural Center on the fifth floor of the M Plaza Building. Classes range from traditional activities, such as hanji (Korean paper) crafts to more contemporary activities such as Hallyu makeup and K-pop dance classes. On some weekends, the Seoul Film Society and Seoul Book and Culture Club host film screenings and meet-and-greets with local authors.

☆2017 KOREAN FOLK PAINTING CLASS☆ Join this Korean Folk Painting Class for Expats (FREE) by clicking on the link 😊 http://seoulculturalcenter.com/events/painting2017/ . . 👉When: Every THURSDAY from 2pm to 3:30pm(90min) 👉Where: Seoul Global Cultural Center (5th FL, M-plaza, Myeong-dong, Seoul) 👉How Much: Free of charge (Expats only) . . *Only available for foreign residents in Korea. Please bring your ARC(Alien Registration Card). *A-3 Visa and/or SOFA Stamp also accepted. *A Membership Card will be issued to you after your status of staying in Korea is checked. . . . . . #korea #folk #painting #class #free #seoul #expat #foreigner #myeongdong #sgcc #art #myeongdong #koreanfolkpainting #seoulglobalculturalcenter #ktomanilaoffice #wowkoreasupporters #instagrammers #igmanila #igasia #travel #tourist #instatravel #igkorea #koreaphoto #picdaily #igdaily #igasia #koreagram
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More SPA brands abound down the road. MIXXO is another player in the fast fashion market looking to compete with international brands. Catering specifically to career women, MIXXO’s collection consists of basic casual wear, career wear and suits that are more classic than trendy. MIXXO Secret offers intimate wear and comfortable pajamas.

Nearby, TOPTEN10 unveils its brings together quality, design and price and makes it easy to find the latest looks of the season with its “Top 10 Items You Need” display. While most of the items here are basics in fun prints and patterns, TOPTEN10 has a huge selection of graphic tees which boast vintage and modern designs.

Out of the Crowds

Head east to take in the stunning architecture of Korea’s first Roman Catholic parish church, as well as its first Gothic structure: Myeongdong Cathedral. During the mid-1800s, the area had been a gathering place for the Catholic community and the center of missionary work, most of which was conducted secretly. Completed in 1882, the church has since become the preeminent site for Latin-rite Roman Catholic services and the seat of Seoul’s Archbishop.

Boasting a striking alter, high ceilings and colorful stained glass windows, Myeongdong Cathedral offers visitors a bit of sanctuary from the bustling streets of the neighborhood.  In the basement, there is a small sanctuary where the remains of Korea’s martyrs are enshrined, and where visitors to the cathedral can pay their respects.

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Behind the cathedral, St. Mary's Garden, is a nice place for a peaceful stroll. Like all places of worship, it is a quiet and solemn place to visit. Visitors are free to enter and take pictures, but should be careful so as to not disrupt parishioners.

Make your way back through the crowds to O’Sulloc. Whether you need a bit of caffeine or are looking for the perfect gift to share a taste of Korea with your loved ones back at home, this purveyor of fine tea should be a stop on your Myeongdong walk.

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Specializing in premium teas produced in Jeju Island, O’Sulloc functions as a cafe and gift shop and boasts an expansive collection of Korean herbal, red and green teas, some of which are roasted on-site in the large cauldron at the entrance.

Although the cafe's beverages are on the pricey side, they use high-quality ingredients and are not likely to be found in any other shop in Korea. Creative hot, cold and blended drinks are available, as are desserts, like the light and refreshing green tea ice cream and green tea cheese tiramisu. 

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Appreciate the gorgeous aromas of the teas for sale by smelling the samples on display (the Tropical Dream Green Tea will send you to another place and time). As a bonus, they are beautifully packaged and additional gift boxes can be purchased for a minimal fee.

Beauty Haul on the Cosme Road

Back to shopping! And there’s one more SPA brand you shouldn’t miss. 8 Seconds provides a variety of styles to suit every shopper, carrying looks that include basics, activewear, outerwear, denim, intimates and trendy accessories. There is a special floor for menswear, denim and graphic t-shirts, and 10x10 in the basement is a good place to pick up cute eco-bags and stationery. Outside, grab a unique street snack such as skewered grilled octopus or tteokgalbi meatballs.

Everyone knows that South Korea is the leader of beauty trends and there’s no better place to load up on cosmetics than Seoul’s Cosme Road, which is essentially a commercial concentration of the nation’s most popular brands. The products for sale in these stores boast high quality relative to price, so shoppers buy them not only for personal use, but also for gifts.

In fact, it’s not uncommon to see tourists dragging along suitcases chock full of cosmetics. While each shop has its own concept and specialty items, some stand out above the others.

Etude House embodies the dollhouse every little girl dreams of having. Decorated in princess pink, the shop, which caters to younger women, is known particularly for its oh-so-adorable packaging but has a great selection of eye makeup and lip tints. Aritaum is a stark contrast, both in decor, which is on the cosmopolitan side, and price, which is in the upper mid-range end. Go here for gel nail polish and the IOPE Cushion Compact which is so popular that some reports state one of these is sold every 30 seconds in Asia.

Innisfree’s flagship store in Myeongdong is a tourist favorite, as the brand’s products (and packaging) are eco-friendly and manufactured without parabens, artificial pigments, animal ingredients, mineral oils or artificial fragrances. This particular location is just as sustainable, built to resemble a greenhouse and illuminated with energy-saving LED lighting. Innisfree, like most of the cosmetics shops on Cosme Road, offer free samples with each purchase and larger, more deluxe free gifts with bigger purchases.

Bring it on Down to Lotte Town

If you haven’t spent all your money by now, cross the street via the Underground Shopping Center to Lotte Young Plaza, and pick up a few posters, DVDs or other memorabilia items of your favorite Hallyu stars along the way. Enter the mall through the basement through the SM TOWN Pop Up Store and make your way through the multi-story shopping complex of diverse brands devoted to casual wear and fun accessories.

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If you’re shopping on a bigger budget, Lotte Department Store is ten floors of retail bliss, featuring mostly higher end and luxury brands, including a Duty Free Shop on the tenth floor. The basement’s food court has a fantastic selection of just about any type of cuisine you can imagine, while the eleventh and twelfth floors are punctuated with dine-in restaurants.

Round off your evening with a movie at Avenuel, a cinema that is one of the few in Seoul that shows select Korean movies with English subtitles, or with a nightcap at The Lounge, a luxurious, chandelier-studded, marble-floored lounge on the first floor of the Lotte Hotel. Grab a table by the window that overlooks the waterfall and relax to the smooth sounds of live music Monday through Saturday.

For more guided walks, check out my Ultimate Guide to Seoul's Best Neighborhoods!

More Information: Myeongdong

To Get There: Take the Seoul subway to Myeongdong Station (Line 4, Exit 6).

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