Ikseon-dong is gaining attention as a new attraction in Seoul. Despite being in one of the oldest neighborhoods in the center of Seoul, the more well-known attractions of Jonggak, Myeong-dong, Dongdaemun, and Gwanghwamun outshone Ikseon-dong. It only recently started to become a trend as young artists and entrepreneurs began to open businesses like cafes, restaurants, and handicraft shops with unique concepts and designs. Find your way through the maze-like streets of Ikseon-dong for a personal treasure hunt!
Ikseon-dong's Hanok Village was first established in the 1920s, and with the passing of time, modernism caught up with tradition to create the unique atmosphere found here today. Despite its recent popularity as a tourist attraction, the village is still a lived-in neighborhood, home to many residents.
The twists and turns of narrow alleys may seem all the same, but each path is lined with attractive shops and cafés decorated with unique characteristics of their own. It's no surprise that these alleyways are referred to as "photo zones" as the colorful shops make a perfect backdrop for photogenic moments. There are no directions or guide maps within the village, so it's advised to take note of any shops or murals that stand out to use as path markers.
One of the many unique shops found in Ikseon-dong Hanok Alley is Vintage Bonnie. Vintage Bonnie specializes in selling handmade products with a retro design such as clothing, kitchenware, and other household items. A well-organized showcase of colorful and elaborate kitchenware can be found on one side, while a fine line of vintage-style clothing fills the other side of the store. A variety of goods are available at reasonable prices, including adorable fruit-shaped accessories and lovely animal dolls.
For unforgettable memories, try on traditional Korean clothes - hanbok! Ikseon-dong's hanbok rental shop Kukminhanbok Chabim is located only 15 minutes away from the Hanok Alley. The shop offers a wide range of hanbok designs to choose from, including both traditional and modern hanbok. Try on a hanbok of vibrant colors for gorgeous photo results on a bright, sunny day. In addition to hanbok rental service, the shop also provides styling options for your hair as well as accessories to match your hanbok.
Restaurant Gyeongyangsik 1920 offers authentic Korean pork cutlet menus just like those served in the past. The restaurant’s name comes from the term gyeongyangsik, referring to a type of Western restaurants in Japan, which became popular in Korea during the 1970s and ‘80s. The interior is designed with retro-style pink curtains and large sofas, making you feel as if you have slipped into the past.
The two most representative menus at Gyeongyangsik 1920 are donkkaseu (pork cutlet) and Hamburg steak. The pork cutlet uses tender pork sirloin and Hamburg steak is served with a savory combination of carrots, celery, onions, and a fried egg. Risotto made with butter and cream is also served along with the main menus for a full kick of flavors.
Gyeongyangsik 1920 often has a long waiting line during meal hours. If you happen to visit during a busy time, make a reservation at the entrance to receive a text message when your turn comes up so you can use the wait time to explore some more.
Unhyeongung Royal Residence was once the house of Heungseon Daewongun, the father of Joseon Dynasty's 26th ruler, King Gojong (r. 1863-1907). Despite its location in the middle of the city, Unhyeongung Royal Residence remains peaceful and quiet. The harmony of traditional buildings with green trees in the background is just like a work of art. In particular, Unhyeongung Royal Residence's backyard is filled with trees that provide shade for the perfect resting spot during hot summer days.
A variety of events are prepared for visitors to enjoy at Unhyeongung Royal Residence. A major must-see event is the reenactment of King Gojong and Empress Myeongseong's marriage ceremony that takes place twice a year. The first ceremony for this year has already taken place but the next ceremony is due to take place on October 20.
Follow the streets of Ikseon-dong leading to Nagwon Music Mall and you will notice tented food stalls. These food stalls that also frequently appear in Korean dramas are called pojangmacha. Pojangmacha usually consists of a cooking area and small dining tables where customers can see the cooking process right in front of their eyes.
Pojangmachas offer a variety of beloved Korean street-foods such as jeon (pancakes), udon, ramyeon, eomuk (fish cake), tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), and more. Most menus are available at a low-cost, usually less than 10,000 won, and go great with alcohol. For an unforgettable night out in Korea, don’t forget to stop by Ikseon-dong’s Pojangmacha Street!
* This column was last updated in June 2018, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details from the official websites before visiting.