Insadong Special : Those Places Still Remaining
See & Do Tours
There’s no doubt Insadong is one of the most traditionally Korean area in Seoul. It might be due to all the Korean souvenir shops lined up along the streets, but in that place, the essence of Korea continues to remain strong and intact through the passage of time. In fact, they even changed the Starbucks sign into Hangul. Since long ago, Insadong was a place greatly beloved by artists and writers. It was those very people who gathered here, gained commercial power over the neighborhood, and led Insadong into becoming what it is today. Essentially, it is a neighborhood deeply entrenched in history of art and culture.
34 Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Myeongsindang Pilbang is a place that sells calligraphy tools. That’s why there’s a giant brush hanging from the entrance. Although it first opened its doors as a ink stone factory in Boryeong, Chungcheongnam-do, it relocated to Insadong in 1987 and have stayed there ever since. The queen and king of Spain, a prince of the Netherlands, and the president of Costa Rica were just a few of the many distinguished guests who visited this shop. Myeongsindang Pilbang also offers seal making and calligraphy classes. Reinforcing the importance of taking it slow when it comes to making seals or writing calligraphy, Myeongsindang Pilbang isn’t just a simple shop but a place which values the true essence of calligraphy art.
55-1 Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Booklovers can come and browse through this store for hours. From classics to genealogy records to scientific journals, many different kinds of books can be found lining up the shelves like little soldiers. Famed works of literature like “Worinseokbo”, “Worincheongangjigok”, “Dongnip Sinmun”, “Hwangseongsinbo” were also first sold through this very store. Even now, there might still be a number of priceless books hidden inside this store. Stop by Tongmunkwan to take in the musty smell of old books and chat about great works of literature while sipping a cup of coffee.
32 Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Holding a special place in the world of Korean art, Tong-in Shop has been spreading our culture and art to both Koreans and foreigners alike since 1924. That’s how this shop became the first in Korea to open its own craft museum, craft shop, and craft workshop. It operates these shops with the motto of “hoping that the things we think about and put into practice will be the root of the world’s beauty and the foundation of a civil culture.” Because Lee Gye-seon, the CEO of Tong-in, protected the traditions of craftsmanship and didn’t spare any expense when it came to investing in contemporary arts, both forms of arts were able to come together and coexist harmoniously under her shop. And these kinds of places are very hard to find in Korea, marking Tong-in Shop a rare place.
39 Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Out of all brassware, the highest quality of brassware is called “Bangjja”. Alloys are mixed in a golden ratio to create a type of brassware that’s not easily broken. The only countries to possess these techniques are Korea and Turkey. The president of Zildjian, a company which uses Turkey’s brassware-making technique to make its drum cymbals, visited Napcheong Brassware and couldn’t help but marvel at Korea’s “bangjja” making techniques. Contrary to popular beliefs that brassware is difficult to maintain, it’s actually very easy to use brassware. For brassware that changed colors, all you need to do is polish it with a dry sponge to bring back its original sheen. Inside Napcheong Brassware, visitors will find piles and piles of beautifully gleaming brassware.
48 Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
The masks at Insa-dong’s Talbang have fairly thick lines. Those thick lines come together to form the wide grin of a smiling, Korean face. For the last 35 years, the owner of Talbang said all he thought about was carving the masks for the rest of his life. Although it looks simple, if there’s even a slight hesitation while carving out the masks, the lines representing the expression of the mask will be wrong, ruining the entire mask. Whether it’s joy, sadness, or anger, so many human expressions are perfectly captured through these masks. The most valuable mask is a mask called “Hahoe” mask. It is the only mask that was able to preserve its original form from 800 years ago. Listening to their stories, it’s hard to take your eyes off of the masks adorning the walls of this shop.