Hello, this is my first post and I thought I'd introduce you to my second home (technically first?), South Korea, which I visited this past summer. 

South Korea was once thought to be the useless, leftover scraps of many wars and conquests. Slowly, but surely, it is rising its level in the technology, fashion, entertainment, and tourism industries. Not only are K-Pop entertainers and K-drama actors/actresses becoming more famous, but hot spots of mixed traditional and modern styles are displayed. This summer, I decided to to see what the buzz about these places were about.

1. Myeong-dong

One of the busiest places ever, Myeong-dong is a popular shopping district in Seoul. What’s so special about a shopping place though? First, there are too many stores to count. You have your familiar Forever 21 and H&M, except two to three stories taller. Then there are popular Korean drugstore/makeup shops, like Olive Young, Natural Republic, Etude House, and Tony Moly. Do not underestimate drugstores in Korea, or in Asia in general. They are not like the 7-Eleven’s in America. These stores have everything you could ever think of, like lines of makeup brands, first-aid and health products you didn’t even know existed, yummy snacks, etc. Next, lined across the streets, are carts of heavenly street food and restaurants, all varying from Korean, American, to even Turkish foods. You can find refreshing lemonade in lightbulbs, grilled meats in delicious sauces, ice-cream in warm fish-shaped bread cones.

Some of my favorite, and most visited places are below:

  • Gaene Dog Cafe & Cat Playground (Noriter): You’ve probably heard about the endless number of themed cafes in Asia. Korea is famous for animal ones, especially dogs and cats. You go into the cafes, pay around $6-8, order a drink, and play with the animals for hours. Literally, hours.
  • James Chicago Pizza
  • Å-land (clothing store)

2. Gangnam

Gangnam is one of the largest and most reputable districts in Seoul. It not only tops as one of the most affluent areas, but it also tops as one of the best places for education. It’s an important business and shopping district, filled with big name brands and companies people die for. My family lives in Apgujeong, so Gangnam has always been my big, second home and the tourist attractions many consider there have been my weekly stops every time I visit Korea.

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Places recommended here:

  • Hyundai Department Store/Galleria Department Store: The two are a good ten minute walk from each other. Both carry high fashion brands and a little pricey, but more than satisfying restaurants. Hyundai Department Store’s 5th floor has several restaurants and the first underground floor (B1) doubles as a food court and supermarket. The Galleria only has an underground food court, but many of their booths are highly recommended. Both are worth visiting. Hyundai – Line 3 on the subway, Stop at Apgujeong, Exit 3
  • COEX Mall (Kakao Store, The Bistro Pizza, Jaju, etc.)
  • Korean City Air Terminal/Shinsegae
  • Moomin Store/Cafe
  • Garosugil: LINE Character shop, MangoSix, Cheesecake 27, Remicone, etc. Line 3 on the subway, Stop at Sinsa, Exit 8

3. Hongdae

The land of the young people, Hongdae is one of the most popular places for teenagers and college students to find amazing street food and cute cafes, the latest fashion trends for cheap prices, the best clubs, and some pretty cool street performers when evening hits. Line 4 on Subway, Stop at Honggik Univ. Entrance, Exit 9.

It’s hard to name places here because literally, Hongdae is a crisscross of roads with small little stores and street vendors. So,some places here:

  • The Galapagos Coffee
  • Bauhouse Dog Cafe
  • A’Pieu
  • Trickeye Museum/Ice Museum
  • Skinfood
  • O’Sulloc

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Just go into any store, any restaurant, any street food cart, and you will find happiness.🙂

4. Insadong

Insadong is more of a traditional version of Hongdae. Similarly, there are little stores lined up, many of tourist items and traditional clothing and accessories. Not many big name places, but I went to Miss Lee Cafe, which is a famous cafe with really good food and desserts. Across from this street is Samcheongdong, which leads to Gyeongbukdong Palace. Samcheongdong is a fun little place with again and again, more great food, some wall art, and a lot of traditional items. Many people borrow traditional Korean outfits – called Hanboks – from this street or Insadong and then go to the palace. It’s a neat place everyone should take out!

5. Other places: Namsan Tower (walk up, don’t take the bus. the walk is so much prettier and worth it), Itaewon, Namdaemun Market, Dongdaemun Plaza (DDP)

 

My seven weeks in Korea are coming to an end and I’m thankful for the time I’ve been able to be here with my family and friends. For the first time in a long time, I was able to explore like a tourist with my friends and come back home to my family. I can’t wait for next time. Well, I can wait a bit. (-:

(This article can also be found on my wordpress, which you should check out!)

Published by Hannah Lee