Ikseon-dong has risen out of the shadows of neighboring attractions like Jonggak, Myeong-dong, Dongdaemun, and Gwanghwamun to become a must-visit neighborhood. The maze-like streets of Ikseon-dong hold treasures in the form of cafés, restaurants, and handicraft shops with unique concepts and designs operated by young artists and entrepreneurs. Ikseon-dong has enough to see and eat to fill a half-day of touring!
Ikseon-dong Hanok Village, first established in the 1920s, offers a unique mix of modern and traditional elements. Despite the passage of time, 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 the 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.
If you wander through the alleys long enough, you're sure to come across the line of people waiting outside Namdobunsik. The casual dining establishment rose to fame through word-of-mouth due to their unique versions of some of Koreans favorite dishes. Examples include bbalkong tteokbokki, featuring the crispy bite of bean sprouts, kimbap ssam, a vegetable wrap version of kimbap with smoked jeyuk bokkeum (stir-fried pork), and sangchu twigim, offering various fritters to wrap in fresh lettuce and dip in sauce. You can control how spicy the tteokbokki is, making Namdobunsik a great option for people who can't handle spicy foods.
There is always room for dessert, and Kkilook House is ready to serve! The café is filled with the sweet scent of baked goods and aromatic teas, and offers seating with a rooftop view. The most popular seats are the floor seats by the windows, which make for great Instagram posts. After you've made your post, spend time enjoying Kkilook's charms; look for the hidden seagull shapes throughout the interior, or watch cats nimbly walking around the rooftops.
Part of the charm of exploring Ikseon-dong is stopping in to enjoy the shops. At Real Battle Ground, you can relieve stress while also winning prizes! This indoor shooting range provides a variety of BB gun types that feel just like their actual model. Each gun type has a set point goal and if you get over the target goal, you win a prize!
For dinner, fly to Thailand. Just kidding! You can enjoy Thai food in Ikseon-dong at Sala Daeng BANGKOK, already famous among tourists. The restaurant looks like a resort straight out of Bangkok, decorated with rattan furniture and green plant around a central swimming pool. The menu includes Korean remakes of Thai cuisine for a unique dining option. If you're looking for the full experience, be sure to order the Sala Daeng Special three-tier tray, coming with dinner and dessert!
* This column was last updated in June 2020, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.