Sunday, April 26, 2015

My Trip to South Korea: Seoul Part 2 - Shopping, Mosque, & Art


Moving on now to all the other miscellaneous places I visited in Seoul. We started with the KT & G Sangsang Madang pictured above, which was one of the places featured in the TripAdvisor art tour. It's located in Hongdae, and features a very interesting exterior. 




To be honest, I'm still not fully sure what this place is for. There was one floor of art "exhibits" open to the public, which showcased only about five pieces. The gift shop is quite interesting to browse through though, as it features



There's also a cafe up on the sixth floor, which served up some nice, tart lemon tea and a terrific view. We came mainly because we needed wifi, but it was honestly quite a nice ambiance for chatting. 

Hongdae itself is also a lovely district, both in the daytime and nighttime. It has a trendy college-town vibe, with tons of students walking about. There's plenty of shops, including a large Forever 21, a Lush, and other brands. At night, all the bars open up. One thing I noticed was that the girls here really aren't afraid to spend on their shoes and bags - nearly every one we walked by had a brand name handbag  (think YSL, Prada, Chanel, etc.) and brand name sneakers. The stereotype is true, Koreans really take care of their appearance. 

Itaewon


Our hotel was located in Itaewon, which is a ridiculously hilly district. It's also clearly a wealthy area, and all the homes were gated and looked exactly like the Chaebol residences featured in all of our favorite dramas.


If you walk past all the residences, you end up in the more central part of Itaewon, which honestly felt a bit sketchy. There were 24-hour massage parlors (:/) and places that definitely looked like gentleman's clubs. Our guidebook specifically called out "Homo Hill" and "Hooker Hill" in this area.


Our destination was the Mosque in this area. Yes, there's a surprising Muslim population in Seoul, centered around this district. 


Having been to Istanbul, this mosque obviously couldn't compare, but it was surprisingly large and offered up a great view of the city. Just note that women can't enter. 


If you're an art lover, you should also visit the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art in Itaewon. I didn't get a chance to, but supposedly it's a great place to spend a couple hours. 

Garosugil


Our next stop was Garosugil in Shinsa-dong, Gangnam. It's really just more shopping and cute streets, good for an afternoon wander. There's many boutique shops in this area with local designer clothes, that supposedly are better for smaller sizes (under US size 6). This is close to subway line 3, Shinsa Station. 


Just fyi, Grand is one of the best-known plastic surgery centers in the city. The building was enormous (over 10-stories) and very ostensibly placed in the midst of this area. 


Interestingly, we learned that fried chicken and beer isn't available until at least 5PM. Literally, all the places were closed during the day.


Here's a quick rundown of other areas to shop in Seoul, per one of the Korean members of our group:

  • Myungdong ( 명동 / $): The biggest tourist shopping area in Seoul, with lots of local beauty shops if you’re looking for some Korean cosmetics items. Also has two big department stores nearby (Lotte and Shinsegae) if you need something more higher end. Lotte Department store carries more local brands. I came here and can definitely agree, this is the area to go for most of your shopping needs.
  • Coex Parnas Mall ( 코엑스 몰 / $$): One of the biggest indoor malls in Seoul, newly-renovated. Houses a nice food court, local fashion shops, biggest multiplex cinema, and is right next to Hyundai Department store. Close to subway line 2 Samsung station.
  • 10 Corso Como (10 꼬르소 꼬모 , Kangnamgu Cheongdamdong 79 / $$$): Seoul branch of the famous Italian retailer. This branch sometimes carries interesting collaboration with local designers as well as photo exhibitions. Nice café with desserts is also here (warning though, we tried to give this address to multiple taxi drivers and none of them had any idea where this place or the next one is)
  • Boon the Shop ( 분더샵 , Kangnamgu Cheongdamdong 89-3/ $$$): Higher-end multi-brand retailer in Korea that houses a lot of fashion-forward European brands. Price point is not cheap but it also has a nice café restaurant if you want to check out the hipsters.


  • Hope you guys enjoyed part 2! Stay tuned for part 3 and other posts!

    2 comments:

    1. Looks like you had fun in Seoul! The pics so far are great and I like you provided tidbits/info on things in Seoul. Did you visit any other cities?

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      1. I visited Busan as well, and will have a dedicated post on that! We spent the majority of time in Seoul though, so most of my photos are from there. Hopefully this is helpful, it definitely was a boon to go with native Koreans :)

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