Jongno by Night and Day
See & Do Tours
May's Main Article
Jongno, in the heart of Seoul, is always bustling with people thanks to the area’s abundance of tourist attractions and office buildings. Jongno is full of contrasts. Some areas are ultra-trendy and change seems to happen at a breakneck pace. Yet walking in other parts of Jongno, it feels as though time as stopped entirely. The buildings and streets remain largely unchanged in appearance from decades ago. Visit and enjoy Jongno's contrasting charms.
Near Jongno 3(sam)ga, you'll find narrow alleyways filled with hanok. This little hanok neighborhood is Ikseon-dong. While Jongno turned into a popular tourism and business district with many tall, modern buildings, Ikseon-dong remains unchanged. The hanok in Ikseon-dong were built between 1920-1930 as a housing development for the people. The hanok were built in an urban style and are relatively small, roughly 50 square meters in size. Ikseon-dong's hanok are not grand, ancient hanok. But they are historically relevant and well-preserved examples of early 20th century traditional hanok.
These days, young people are flocking to this part of Seoul, drawn by the artistic atmosphere and energy of Ikseon-dong. In the neighborhood’s narrow alleyways, you’ll find cozy little hanok alongside cafes, restaurants, galleries, and guest houses. You can witness the change that’s come to Ikseon-dong, once a rather run-down residential area, but now a hot spot bustling with change and stores, and places to eat. Rather than detracting from the ambience of the neighborhood, these new businesses add to Ikseon-dong’s charms and add a refreshing liveliness to this old part of Seoul.
Next to the Jongno Tax Office is the de facto entrance to Ikseon-dong’s maze of hanok. You will find the cafe Tteuran nearby. Tteuran opened in 2009, long before Ikseon-dong was the trendy place it is now. Next to the Jongno Tax Office is the de facto entrance to Ikseon-dong’s maze of hanok. You will find the cafe Tteuran nearby. Tteuran opened in 2009, long before Ikseon-dong was the trendy place it is now. The 2010 movie “Cafe Seoul,” a joint Korean-Japanese production, starred the Korean actor Kim Jeong Hoon and the Japanese actor Saito Takumi. Tteuran served as a filming location for the film, appearing as Morandang Café. Many Japanese and Korean fans made their way to Tteuran thanks to “Café Seoul,” and other visitors found Tteuran through word of mouth. At the café, sample the savory mugwort rice cakes (accompanied by a dipping syrup) or perhaps the sweet omija cha (omija tea). There is also ssanghwacha (black herbal tea) which has a strong, earthy flavor. When looking out at Tteuran’s small garden courtyard through the café’s large windows, it can feel like you’re in a little garden, even though you’re in the heart of Seoul.
If you don’t explore Tteuran’s surroundings closely, it would be easy to miss this next spot, Ikdongdabang. This café is located in a hanok; vistors can enjoy a relaxed café atmosphere as well as experience what a hanok is like. From inside the café, you can get a sense of hanok-style architecture, via the classic lines of the ceiling and windows. Ikdongbang has a front yard, and when you enjoy a drink in their yard, the vibe is very comfortable. It almost feels like you’re like hanging out at a friend’s place rather than just visiting a café.
A short distance away you’ll see a half-crumbled wall. You’ve reached Turtle Supermarket. Turtle Supermarket is a relatively unusual supermarket as it only carries snack foods. At most supermarkets, you would purchase your snacks, then leave and eat elsewhere. At Turtle Supermarket you can purchase and eat your snacks on-site. Drinks are also available for purchase and you can even grill yourself some jwipo (dried filefish) over briquettes. People start to flow in during the daytime and they relax with some drinks and snacks while soaking in the friendly atmosphere.
For well-presented, healthy and light Korean cuisine, visit Ikseon-dong 121. Though you’re dining indoors, it will feel like you’re dining out on a terrace, thanks to the wide, open doors of the restaurant. The flavors at Ikseon-dong 121 are well-composed, neat, and not overpowering. Imagine a countryside dining room brought right to the middle of Seoul. The chicken and tomato curry, and the bibimbap with leeks and doenjang (soybean paste) are two representative dishes of the restaurant. There are also vegetarian options available, like lentil curry.
Address : Supyo-ro 28-gil 17-35, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Telephone : +82-2-745-7420
Operating Hours : 11:00~22:00 (Closed Mondays)
Address : 17-19 Supyo-ro 28-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Telephone : +82-10-2939-3974
Operating Hours : 11:00~23:00 / Sundays-11:00~19:00
Address : 17-25 Supyo-ro 28-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Telephone : +82-10-7532-7474
Operating Hours : 14:00~23:00
Address : 30 Donhwamun-ro 11na-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Telephone : +82-2-765-0121
Operating Hours : Mon-Fri 10:00~24:00 / Sat 11:30~20:00 / Closed Sundays
Now, onto Jongno, where change seems to occur as swiftly as time moves. In Jongno, particularly between Jongno 1(il)ga and Jongno 3(sam)ga, office buildings and educational academies are densely concentrated and there are many businesses located here. Jewelry, cosmetics, clothing, and more are available in Jongno’s shops, but there is also a wide variety of eateries here. You can find everything from well known franchises, to brand new places, to well established restaurants. Among these many eateries, it’s possible to find convenience and great taste in one place. One such restaurant is a modern spin on a food court. Another restaurant is a more upscale, gourmet place with a great atmosphere and great food. Though both eateries are relatively new, they’re already well known amongst trend-setters.
From Jongno, head towards Gwanghwamun. When you’re at Jongno 1(il)ga, you’ll see Power Plant. Power Plant opened last year, and best of Itaewon, Kyunglidan Road, Garosu-gil’s famous eateries are brought together here. Itaewon’s Rich Man’s Pizza, Garosu-gil’s Gilbert Burger (with handmade patties), lobster sandwiches are just some of the offerings from the five different brands located at Power Plant. Power Plant’s beer cellar takes up one side of the restaurant. It could be said that the beer offerings cemented Power Plant’s popularity. There are 17 kinds of homebrews, and over 30 different kinds of bottled beer. You can tell how seriously Power Plant takes its beers as there’s even a separate beer menu. Though the beer menu is superb, Power Plant’s culinary offerings mean that it’s a great spot for a range of age groups. It doesn’t matter if you’re meeting up with friends, going on a date, or having a family night out, you won’t have trouble finding something tasty for everyone at Power Plant. Although the restaurant is primarily self-serve, if you pay a 10% service charge, you can get table service.
You can see a very large build, Gran Seoul, right from Jonggak Station. Sikgaekchon is located there and spans the lower (B1), first, and second floors. Restaurants that appeared in the comic strip “Sikgaek,” which is the Korean word for gourmet, can have been established here. The famous comic artist Huh Young-man created Sikgaek as well as Gaksital and Tazza. All three of these works were adapted into Korean TV shows. Additionally, famous restaurants from other parts of Korea have established branches at Sikgaekchon. Byeokje Seolleongtang sells seolleongtang (ox bone soup) made with Korean beef. Bonguri Han-jeongsik offers Han-jeongsik (Korean table d’hote) and a famous restaurant from Busan that sells eomuk (fish cake). You can eat from restaurants right out of your favorite comic; reminisce about those memories, and enjoy a wide range of tasty food. Because there are so many places to choose from at Sikgaekchon, it’s a popular dining spot among people working in the area, students, and expats. In the Joseon Era, the people of Seoul would have eaten at restaurants in small alleys. Today those alleys have developed into modern buildings.
Address : D Tower 3rd. Fl, 17 Jong-ro 3-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Telephone : +82-2-2251-8383
Operating Hours : 11:00~23:00
Address : Gran Seoul, 33 Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Telephone : +82-2-6261-8150
Operating Hours : 11:00~22:30