When in Seoul: Walk around Insadong

A close friend of mine in class was telling me about her day trip to Korea happening days after graduation and I was so excited for her as she showed me a paper of her itinerary! One of which written was Insadong, a place in Korea I truly enjoyed. It then prompted me to start adding words to this post that has been sitting in my drafts for quite a long time.

Among all the destinations included in the Seoul city tour bus itinerary, Insadong was my favorite because of the Ssamziegil complex located there. The beautiful mix of art, culture, and pretty things gives off this unique charm that makes this happy place so admirable.

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Ssamziegil is basically a mall composed of shops located in small spaces that sell one-of-a-kind, fancy trinkets. A lot of them sell unique pieces of accessories, paintings, and music boxes. I love how it’s open-air—it gives you that cozy and homey feeling. The neon lampshades break the monotone color of the complex and it makes the place all the more visually appealing!

Insadong, in general, sells a variety of cultural crafts (from fans to bags, and from calligraphy materials to jars), souvenirs, artworks, accessories, clothing, and tea.

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It was here where I had what was probably the best snack I had in Korea—ddong bbang! It literally translates to poop bread, as Joy mentioned. I really don’t know what is up with poop these days (there’s the famous toilet-themed restaurant in Taiwan, then poop-shaped bread in Korea), but I think it is such an absurd yet adorable concept.

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It was for 1,000 won which is around 30 pesos, and I must say—it was so good! Totally worth the price. It had this bread/pancake texture and had walnuts in every bite. I didn’t even know what the filling was made of but I loved every bit of it. Tonight, I found out that it was made of red bean. Now I know why. Ahh… everything red bean is so good, from that fish bread ice cream to milk tea (and the song with that as the title which happens to be my favorite). I was actually tempted to buy a few to bring back home, but… yeah. Me and my regrets again.

Poop bread, I still dream of you.

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YoonA’s signature! (Sorry, I mistakenly wrote BoA at first. Honest mistake.)

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See that guy wearing blue standing by the sidewalk on the left? He was playing the violin with the case opened for some spare change! Pretty random but I love seeing things like this. It’s so… movie-esque. When we saw this view again from the building an hour after or so, he wasn’t there anymore. We were like, “Aww, he’s gone!”.

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I love this place. It’s too artsy for words.

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Poop again! I do not understand. But I am fascinated by the pretty toilet above.

I really don’t know if it’s just me, but Ssamziegil really gave me that hipster feel. I heard that there are more “hipster” places in Korea such as the Hongdae district… but this was quite hipster to me already, and maybe that’s why I like it? Hmm… just a joke. Haha.

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Ombre-ish skies, a contrast of mountains with high-rise buildings and small establishments, wall scribbles… a favorite picture of mine of the trip to date.

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I was glad to see a photobooth for a photo op! The pictures taken were sent directly to e-mail, although I wish they were printed straight from the machine instead. In that way, it would make things feel so “real”. It was actually one of our few pictures with us actually in it. I think we only have around five pictures or less (with our faces) throughout the whole trip? Another regret… again!

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Joy was so persistent in letting me try this. She kept on forcing me to buy but my sore throat and the expensive price of it (almost 100 pesos!) didn’t really permit me to. It looked like normal ice cream to me, I thought, so I wasn’t too keen on trying it. It turned out to be Turkish ice cream which had this distinct consistency. But that wasn’t the fun part actually—it probably took a minute or two for it to be served! The ice cream man did all these weird tricks (like turning the cone upside down, dancing as he was flipping and twisting the ice cream scooper…my lack of descriptive words makes it hard to explain) before handing the ice cream to me—no, he abruptly stuck the ice cream to my teeth. Haha. I was just staring the whole time, so shocked with what was happening. I had no clue of what was gonna happen, so imagine my face. What an experience! Joy and her brother were just looking at me like I was an idiot or something. I wish they had videoed it to immortalize the hilarious happening.

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Forgive the semi-annoying and tired faces.

Random, shallow realization: if we call our promos buy 1, take 1, in Korea, it’s 1 plus 1!

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After almost two hours of touring the place, we had our early dinner at one of the restaurants in the streets of Insadong. Comfort food, if I must say. Had bibimbap, really delicious soup, spicy crab claws (gahd, I need to familiarize myself with Korean food vocabulary…). Then off we hopped to the subway to head home. In between that, we had a stopover at Kyobo Bookstore for some window-shopping and music album-hunting. It’s where I got a watch half its price which I wear to school every single day! I love a great steal. And can I just say that it was where I held a C-pop album (physically) for the first time in my whole life? Yeah, my likes are pretty unusual… it’s in another country where I get the chance to fulfill my interests. Haha, so annoyingly high maintenance.

I wasn’t able to take snapshots of everything I saw and passed by. A lot of the stores didn’t allow cameras to be brought out. Also, I found things here to be a bit expensive as well, as it is a tourist destination. The prices are nowhere near rock bottom, compared to the underground markets at train stations. But then, that’s fine with me. I didn’t bring anything home, but exploring such a pretty place was the most fulfilling and satisfying part of it!

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