Insadong Cultural Hub of Seoul, Korea | Photo Essay

by Samuel on August 21, 2012

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up by the swarm of people flooding the street of Insadong – Seoul, South Korea.  After-all, it’s the distinct faces along Insadong that make it the most lively pedestrian area in all Seoul; however, it’s the artisans, street vendors, performers, crafts, antiques and details that given this ‘famous strip’ its cultural appeal.  It’s a fascinating experience to encounter modern city slickers decked out in the latest trendy fashions competing for the same space as those adorned in traditional attire plying ancient methods of artistry.  The following photo essay is a look at the details and cultural appeal of Insadong, as opposed to the Faces of Insadong photo essay I recently posted on Nomadic Samuel:

A close-up shot a Korean man's hand drawing designs on a paper fan.

A close-up shot a Korean man’s hand drawing designs on a paper fan.

An elderly Korean man sits against a pole on the street of Insadong with a fan in his hand.

An elderly Korean man sits against a pole on the street of Insadong with a fan in his hand.

Numerous cute Korean figurines are on display at various shops along Insadong  - Seoul, South Korea.

Numerous cute Korean figurines are on display at various shops along Insadong – Seoul, South Korea.

Korean key-chains are on display for tourists looking for a cheap souvenir.

Korean key-chains are on display for tourists looking for a cheap souvenir.

A Korean vendor skilfully prepares a delicious Korean pancake (Hotteok) filled with various sweet ingredients.

A Korean vendor skilfully prepares a delicious Korean pancake (Hotteok) filled with various sweet ingredients.

An overhead perspective of a Korean artisan perfecting his craft on a fan.

An overhead perspective of a Korean artisan perfecting his craft on a fan.

A number of Buddhist sculptures on display in Insadong - Seoul, Korea.

A number of Buddhist sculptures on display in Insadong – Seoul, Korea.

These Korean totem poles have enormous happy faces.  One can't help but feel 'happy' just looking at them :)

These Korean totem poles have enormous happy faces. One can’t help but feel ‘happy’ just looking at them 🙂

This is a close-up shot of a drawing being sold on the streets of Insadong.  As a travel photography tip, it's good to use a prime lens with a wide aperture to achieve a shallow depth of field for a select focus and blurred background.

This is a close-up shot of a drawing being sold on the streets of Insadong. As a travel photography tip, it’s good to use a prime lens with a wide aperture to achieve a shallow depth of field for a select focus and blurred background.

A red lantern with Chinese characters lit up at night - Insadong, Seoul, Korea.

A red lantern with Chinese characters lit up at night – Insadong, Seoul, Korea.

These cute Panda socks are on sale for those wandering down Insadong - Seoul, South Korea.

These cute Panda socks are on sale for those wandering down Insadong – Seoul, South Korea.

A caricature of a Korean couple drawn in a mall area of Insadong - Seoul, Korea.

A caricature of a Korean couple drawn in a mall area of Insadong – Seoul, Korea.

This is a Korean traditional mask with what appears to be a smiling face carved out of wood.

This is a Korean traditional mask with what appears to be a smiling face carved out of wood.

A number of Buddha statues are on display at shops in a back alley of Insadong.

A number of Buddha statues are on display at shops in a back alley of Insadong.

A group of intricately designed Korean fans are spread out along a table on display for sale.

A group of intricately designed Korean fans are spread out along a table on display for sale.

A close up shot of a traditional Korean scholar.

A close up shot of a traditional Korean scholar.

This is a traditional Korean fan with flower and fish arrangements skilfully painted on it.

This is a traditional Korean fan with flower and fish arrangements skilfully painted on it.

A hungry individual reaches with chopsticks to eat tteokbokki 떡볶이 (spicy Korean rice cakes)

A hungry individual reaches with chopsticks to eat tteokbokki 떡볶이 (spicy Korean rice cakes)

This is a close up shot of a Buddhist statue on sale.

This is a close up shot of a Buddhist statue on sale.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff Bartlett August 21, 2012 at 2:58 am

This is an awesome collection. Great way to connect to the place. Those two first images are so strong together, too.

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Nomadic Samuel September 5, 2012 at 4:26 am

Thanks Jeff! It’s one of the first places foreigners like to check out when arriving in Seoul and it’s also popular with Koreans as well.

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Hogga August 27, 2012 at 8:14 pm

Wicked cool… I have a friend who just moved to Seoul this week… I’ll have to pass it on to him!

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Nomadic Samuel September 5, 2012 at 4:41 am

Seems like a lot of people move to Korea these days! I remember a few years ago when hardly any English teachers were here.

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Cole @ FourJandals.com August 29, 2012 at 8:11 am

Brilliant photos. Cannot wait to visit South Korea.

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Nomadic Samuel September 5, 2012 at 4:42 am

That’s awesome Cole! Not many foreigners come here aside from those who are here to teach.

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Gen August 30, 2012 at 3:51 am

Great photos! Really makes me want to see South Korea

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Nomadic Samuel September 5, 2012 at 4:42 am

Thanks Gen! Hopefully you can come soon 🙂

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Margyle September 26, 2012 at 9:37 am

I lived in Japan and it’s amazing the similarities between the countries and the little differences… like the art you’ve shown and the buddha statues. I’m having a good time talking to my buddy who is teaching over there and comparing notes on what life is like. It really does blow your mind when you spend most of your life living in the ‘west’ and it’s something you really can’t experience unless you live there!

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Shanna Schultz November 21, 2012 at 9:36 am

I loved walking around Insadong…I just wish that my husband wouldn’t have been so impatient to get going. I should have just told him to come back for me, because I could have spent HOURS there. There was just so much to see and do, and the people watching was amazing!

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Audrey December 2, 2012 at 3:33 pm

I feel the same way. There are so many places to shop for souvenirs, jewelry, and traditional items. I could spend hours strolling up and down the main street.

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