An Afternoon out at Seochon

Seochon (서촌), a small and quiet town near Gyeongbokgung (경복궁), is the perfect place to experience both modern and traditional aspects of Seoul. Seochon is known for its traditional market named “Tongin Market (통인시장)” where you can buy food with the market’s special tokens shaped like old Korean coins. It is also full of great handcraft shops and art galleries where you can enjoy beautiful works of some of Seoul’s coolest artists today. I would like to introduce to you a day I spent at Seochon, and share what you can experience at this delightful town, right in the heart of Seoul.

 

1:00PM

John Berger’s Sketchbook

Onground is a small gallery located in an alley that leads right into Gyeongbokgung. It is currently holding an exhibition called “John Berger’s Sketchbook.” John Berger is a British writer and art critic mostly known for his book “Ways of Seeing,” which was made into a BBC television series as well. He passed away in last January at the age of 90. The exhibition was originally planned to celebrate his 90th birthday, but his unexpected death turned it into a commemorating event.

The exhibition consists of his original drawings and texts from his many books.

John Berger once said “a drawing is an autobiographical record of one’s discovery of an event–seen, remembered or imagined.” Quoting from an introduction of this exhibition:

“For him, drawing was the act of reading a map, a fundamental visual language that leads to communication between people who speak different languages. Drawing was another form of language that fills up the space of our meager vocabulary.”

This was the reason why John Berger never stopped drawing. Though he was a renowned writer, drawing was a way of communication he deeply believed in.

 

He uses a very delicate stroke in many of his drawings. I felt that his style of depicting objects-from people to nature-adds a sense of poignance to them.

One part that draws attention was a short video clip of John Berger drawing a portrait of Tilda Swinton. In the video they share conversations on how they view the world through art. Both of them being terrific artists in their fields it was intriguing to watch them talk about their art, which had somehow become their lives as well.

The drawings alone were amazing, but the gallery and the way it’s designed really completes this exhibition. For instance, the ceiling is not fully covered and the sunlight comes through the ceiling, creating a scene like this.

 

 

I recommend that you visit this place before the sun has set, so you can fully appreciate the exhibition with the sunlight as part of it.

If you want some souvenir, the gallery offers a selection of design notebooks with John Berger’s drawings on the cover. It’s 3,000 Won each and 10,000 Won if you buy 4.

They also sell John Berger’s books, but they are Korean translations so you might not find it very helpful.

John Bergers’ Sketchbook opens until April 7 at Onground.

Address: 23, Jahamun-ro 10-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea (서울특별시 종로구 자하문로 10길 23)

Open from 10:00AM to 19:00PM, from every Tuesdays to Fridays

Admission: free

2:00PM

If you walk along the beautiful stone walls of Gyeongbokgung, you will eventually encounter a few policemen who will stop you for a moment. No worries because that means you’re at Cheongwadae (청와대), the presidential residence of South Korea, also known as the “Blue House.”

This area is under the police control for security purposes, but you don’t have to be intimidated at all as it happens to be a popular tourist spot for many foreigners.

Just like Gyeongbokgung, where the king of the Chosun Dynasty (조선왕조) used to live, the Blue House is also located in front of Bugaksan (북악산; Mt.Bugak). One interesting fact about the relationship between Korean landmarks and montains: traditionally Koreans used to take topography very seriously in terms of architecture. This theory of divination based on topography, is called “Pungsujiri (풍수지리)” or what you commonly know as “Feng Shui.” According to this theory, the most ideal location to live in has a mountain at the back, and water in front. Gyeongbokgung and the Blue House are the perfect example of this ideal location, as they have Mt.Bugak at the back and Cheongyecheon (청계천) which eventually leads to Hangang (한강; Han River).

Mt. Bugak is also one of many beautiful hiking spots in Seoul, but access to some parts of the course are restricted for security reasons.

Take your time to appreciate the view of the Blue House and Mt.Bugak! It’s not something you can see everyday, considering you’re in the heart of Seoul which is a highly developed city.

 

3:00PM

It’s about time we have some snacks! As I mentioned earlier, Seochon is known for its traditional marketplace called “Tongin Market.” More detailed article on Tongin Market will be introduced by one of myHUBS reporters, Kevin, and you should definitely read his article for more information with photos! (http://wp.me/p45EHJ-1yz)

Ddeokbokki (떡볶이) is one of the most popular street food in Korea. It is rice cake and fish cake cooked with spicy chili paste. There are many good places for ddeokbokki in Seochon, so make sure you try it when you visit.

(This particular ddeokbokki is from Hyoja Bunshik (효자분식), an old snack bar not far from the Blue House.)

Hyoja Bakery (효자베이커리) is one of the most famous bakeries in Seoul, and is located right before the entrance of Tongin Market. Hyoja bakery offers generous samples of bread for all the visitors, so even if you’re not familiar with Korean style of baking, you don’t have to worry about ending up with the wrong bread. Try little bit of everything before you buy one! The most popular ones are their famous corn bread and onion cream cheese streusel(my favorite too!).

 

Address: 54, Pirundae-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시, 종로구 필운대로 54)

Open from 7:30AM to 24:00AM everyday.

 

Article by Jieun from Korea, a Senior in Business Administration

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