Trendy Places in Seoul: Iksandong

Kim Yunkun

Hi guys! Let me introduce to you to another hot trending place for the Koreans!

This time the place is called Iksan-dong. Iksan-dong is the oldest Hanok(Korean traditional house) village in Seoul. Just an ordinary looking house in Iksan-dong may be over 100 years old. In 1920 during the period of Japapnese colonialism, upon hearing the redevelopment plans for the area to be developed into Japanese style housing, a young property developer by the name of Jeong Segueon, who was an independence movement donator, purchased the area. Thus, instead of Japanese style housing, the area was filled with hanoks, and this was the start of the 100year history of Iksan-dong.

After 84years however, another redevelopment plan was devised by the Korean government but was met with differences in opinion of the owners of buildings. Upon 10years of debate, the result was abandoning the redevelopment. Korean traditional houses requires lots of maintenance, but if the area becomes a redevelopment district, the land owners are no longer able to have construction works done to the buildings due to the law.

10 years of not tending the houses left many houses being abandoned and the area became obsolete attracting homeless people in the night.

All this changed since 2009 with the opening of a Tea café 뜰안 (garden House). During the time of the opening the owner was met with skepticism from peers, however, upon seeing the traditional scenery over the planes of the window, she decided this was ‘the place’ for a tea café. As time passed, trends showed that she was right, and more and more young private business owners flocked to the place opening cafes restaurants, and craft shops. The once old and crumbling  soon to be forgotten place was transformed into a lively trendy place attracting the attention of the younger generation.

The new places popping up in the area had unspoken rules.

  1. Be careful of light and sound: keep the light down so it’s not too bright in the night, keep the music volume to minimum
  2. Keep the alcohol to minimum, no selling of high alcohol drinks such as soju
  3. Keep the tradition of Hanok: no changes to the exterior or expanding the with of the road
  4. Don’t disrupt the atmosphere of Iksan-dong, and blend in

Maintaining the rules, and with successful blending in of the newcomers, Iksan-dong has become a one of a type places in Seoul with unique atmosphere. Now the place is dotted with trendy cafés, restaurants, accessory shops, hanbok (Korean traditional garment) shops, and more. Just walking the streets give you a truly unique experience of old meets new.

With the introduction and history of Iksan-dong behind, let me introduce to you about some of the place famous places you can visit here

  1. 동남아 (Southeast Asia)

A Tai land restaurant with remodeled Hanok interior boasts amazing food and atmosphere pleasing both eye and tongue. Pat tai, Pineapple fried rice are both good choices

  1. 르블란서 Le Blanseu

A French restaurant serving French home foods with signature menus like roasted chicken, ragu pastas, all not so distant French foods, all in the setting of a traditional Hanok!

  1. 식물 (Plant)

One of the first-class contributors of making the current Iksan-dong is run by a fashion photographer. It is a Hanok modified in to a café, has a unique interior that has preserved the old place leaving it a humane atmosphere. It sells coffee, deserts and some alcohol drinks as well!

KakaoTalk_Photo_2018-11-30-17-17-24-11

Iksan-dong is located right next to Jongno 3-ga Station, readily accessible by line number 5 from Wangsimni Station. Perhaps this may be the next weekend trip for you guys? I hope you enjoy the truly amazing atmosphere.

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