A trip to Insadong offers an immediate immersion into Korean culture. This lively, charming area of downtown Seoul is filled with restaurants, traditional teahouses, and outdoor performances frequently take place there. In Insadong, every corner you turn is a discovery. It is also one of the best places in Korea to pick up souvenirs. Insadong’s streets are lined with shops selling traditional Korean craftwork, which are often handmade by artisans. Here you can find all manner of items that are unique to Korea, such as wooden masks that used to be used in performances, fashions inspired by Korea’s traditional costume, and lamps made from traditional paper. During your trip to Korea, make sure you take advantage of the favorable exchange rate, and purchase some high- quality original souvenirs that’ll make for perfect gifts.
Tip) Information on Shopping in Insa-dong
In Insadong visitors can purchase a variety of items from traditional ceramics, household goods, and other specialist goods to Hanji (traditional Korean paper) craftwork, key rings with traditional patterns, cellular phone accessories.
For a unique personal souvenir, visit one of the shops where you can have your name carved into one of Korea’s traditional stamps.
The National Souvenir Center is a public institution managed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. Here customers can shop for traditional Korean craftwork without have to worry about the quality. Goods here include those that have won public Korean souvenir contents and work created by nationally recognized traditional craftsmen. All goods come complete with AS (after service such as repairs), and shoppers have the option to exchange items. The two-story National Souvenir Center sells a variety of items stocking everything from ceramics to traditional food.
Exploring the Store
The first floor displays traditional ceramics and tea ware, jewelry boxes, hand mirrors, business card holders, and Hanji (traditional Korean paper) craftwork (lamp stands, dolls, tea sets, etc.), and other charming accessories. On the second floor, of the store are various wooden craftwork, blankets, cushions, and other articles colored with natural dyes. Furthermore, customers who wish to buy larger sized goods can arrange to then have them shipped all over the world.
Useful Tip This is one of the few stores in Insadong that offer refunds on VAT (Value-Added Tax). Shoppers should fill out an application at the cashier’s desk and then submit it at the airport to receive a refund.
* A 5% discount is available when merchandise is purchased with a Japanese JCB Card
Visitkorea Recommended Items!
Najeonchilgi (lacquerware inlaid with mother-of-pearl) Hand Mirror 10,000 won~
Hanji (traditional Korean paper) Lamp (stand) (small) 25,000 won
My Very Own Stamp 15,000 won~
Tea Set for 1 30,000 won~
Naturally Dyed Table Runners (S) 30,000 won / (L) 70,000 won
Detailed Information ● Available Items: Najeonchilgi (lacquerware inlaid with mother-of-pearl), ceramics, Hanji (traditional Korean paper) craftwork, textile goods, jewelry (jades, amethysts, etc.), food (gochujang – Korean red pepper paste, gim – dried seaweed, etc.), and more ● Hours of Operation: 10:00am ~ 8:00pm (November-March) / 10:00am ~ 8:30pm (April-October) ● Foreign Languages Available: English, Japanese ● How to get there: Take the subway line 3 to Anguk station, exit #6 and walk for about five minutes until you reach a tourism information booth. After the booth you should turn left and walk down the main street of Insadong. The National Souvenir Center will be on your left after the Insadong intersection. Stop off at the tourism information booth to pick up a detailed map of the area. ● Contact: +82-2-735-6529 Homepage
The Tong-in Store
If you’d like to spend your time browsing for traditional craftworks in a cozy and quiet atmosphere, then we recommend the Tong-in Store. The Tong-in store is located in a hanok (traditional Korean-style house), which was first built in 1924 and around forty years ago was relocated to Insa-dong. As well as selling high quality souvenirs, the five-story building has galleries that exhibit traditional craftwork, items that were used in daily life, and traditional wooden furniture. Every two weeks the gallery introduces a new small-scale exhibition, which is free of charge.
Exploring the Store
On the first floor visitors can find Hanji (traditional Korean paper) craftwork, picture postcards, picture frames, and various other souvenirs. The hand mirrors and saucers, plates, and fruit trays exquisitely made from Hanji, are small in size and make a perfect gift. The second floor presents Korea’s famous historical tableware and pottery such as Cheongja (celadon porcelains) and other folk craftwork.
Detailed Information ● Available Items: Najeonchilgi (lacquer ware inlaid with mother-of-pearl), ceramics, hanji (traditional Korean paper) craftworks, traditional wooden furniture, high-quality artwork ● Hours of Operation: 10:00am ~ 7:00pm ● Foreign Languages Available: English, Japanese, simple Chinese ● How to get there: Take the Seoul Subway Line 3 to Anguk Station exit #6 and walk about six minutes, turning left into Insadong street. The store is located on the left next to the National Souvenir Center. ● Contact: +82-2-733-4867 Homepage (Korean)
Ssamziegil is the best place in Insadong to find goods made by Korea’s young artists. The small shopping mall is a pleasant place to shop; visitors enter through a courtyard and then make their way up a winding staircase as they browse through the shops. The stores, some of which look like small workshops, exhibit and sell a variety of goods including Hanji (traditional Korean paper) craftwork, ceramics, textile craftwork, as well as more modern designs. This vibrant, original shopping mall is popular with Korean’s in their twenties and thirties.
● Available Items: Hanji (traditional Korean paper) craftwork, ceramics, textile craftwork, accessories, and other miscellaneous goods ● Hours of Operation: 10:30am ~ 9:00pm (Sunday-Thursday) / 10:30am ~ 10:00pm (Friday-Saturday) ● Foreign Languages Available: English, Japanese (varies by shop) ● How to get there: Take subway line 3 to Anguk station, exit #6 and walk straight. Turn left into Insadong street and after a few minutes you will find the Ssamziegil shopping mall on your left. ● Contact: +82-2-1330 (English, Japanese, Chinese) More Information on Ssamziegil
Insa Art Plaza
The Insa Art Plaza contains a wide selection of traditional Korean craftwork, a lot of which is handmade by different artisans, but still are available at considerably low prices. You could almost spend a whole afternoon browsing through the souvenirs, such as high-value artwork, jewelry, insam (ginseng) and hongsam (red ginseng), and other specialty foods. Floors one and two are full of souvenir shops, while an exhibition gallery is located on floors three to five.
Detailed Information ● Available Items: Najeonchilgi (lacquer ware inlaid with mother-of-pearl), ceramics, Hanji (traditional Korean paper) craftwork, traditional wooden furniture, and other miscellaneous goods ● Hours of Operation: 10:30am ~ 8:00pm ● Foreign Languages Availalble: English, Japanese (varies by shop) ● How to get there: Take the subway line 3 to Anguk station, exit #6, and walk about six minutes, turning left into Insadong street. The store is on your left, about 5 minutes after the Tong-In store. ● Contact: +82-2-1330 (English, Japanese, Chinese)