Photo: View from Dongdaemun Seonggwak Park
A top attraction that is constantly crowded with international visitors, Dongdaemun! Tourists to this area typically only spend an hour or two here, but there are so many things to do or see here that you may even spend an entire day exploring. Some of the most representative attractions found in this area include the nation’s first designated national treasure, Heunginjimun Gate, the all-time favorite Cheonggyecheon Stream, as well as the notable landmark of this district, Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP).
The area of Dongdaemun is bigger than most tourists’ know and thus, several hidden attractions are often left unexplored. For that, read on to find out our very own a one-day guide for everyone including first-time travelers to have a productive time at Dongdaemun district!
Photo: Heunginjimun Gate
Heunginjimun Gate is the official name but due to its position on the east side of the outer wall of Seoul Fortress, it is also commonly referred to as Dongdaemun Gate. At that time, four large gates and four small gates were built in the Seoul Fortress surrounding the city. The four main gates (East, West, South, North) each had a Hangeul character attached, indicating benevolence, righteousness, propriety, and wisdom respectively. The east gate of the fortress was formerly named ‘Heunginmun Gate’, but was later changed to ‘Heunginjimun Gate' with an addition of the Hangeul ‘ji (지)’ which was added to invigorate good energy.
Heunginjimun Gate is the largest gate along with Sungnyemun Gate. It has a semicircular ongsung (a small castle that was built in front of the main one for complete protection) that differentiates it from the other fortress gates.
Photo: Scenes of Dongdaemun Seonggwak Park
There is an uphill road behind the Heunginjimun Gate and it leads to the Dongdaemun Seonggwak Park. Due to the strong presence of other tourist attractions, as well as the small scale of the park, visitors to this area tend to miss out this hidden gem. Here at the park, you can catch a bird’s eye view of Dongdaemun where one can observe a harmonious blend of Korea’s traditional architecture with the modern skyscrapers.
TIP) Enjoy night views at Dongdaemun Seonggwak Park
Dongdaemun Seonggwak Park is especially known for their nightscape. Enjoy a spectacular night view of the white lights glowing from the Heunginjimun Gate, along with the vibrant lights emitted from the modern buildings in the background. In particular, the headlights from the countless bypassing cars on the roads somehow create an even more dynamic atmosphere altogether.
☞ Address (Heunginjimun Gate): 288, Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
☞ Directions: Dongdaemun Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 4) and Exit 6 or 7. Walk for about 2-3 minutes.
※ Dongdaemun Seonggwak Park is located at the back of Heunginjimun Gate.
Photo: Summer scene of Cheonggyecheon Stream
Cheonggyecheon stream is a district that connects Jongno-gu and Jung-gu downstream, an all-time favorite leisure place for anyone to rest or simply hang out with friends in heart of the capital.
Though Gwanghwamun is the main entrance to the Cheonggyecheon stream, visitors may also get to the stream from Dongdaemun Station as well. ‘Ogansugyo Bridge’ is the name of bridge located right in front of Dongademun Gate and its name originated from ‘Ogansu Gate’, which was formerly located here where five streams were known to flow outside of the old capital Seoul but due to all the urban development, it is hardly seen today.
Photo: Saekdong (colorful) Wall (left) / Locals seen resting at Cheonggyecheon Stream (right)
Around the areas of Ogansugyo Bridge, a stretch of saekdong (colorful) walls can be seen. Though the section is short, it almost feels like you are walking into an art gallery when taking a stroll along this wall. In addition, the vibrant colors of the walls stand out prominently beside the Cheonggyecheon Stream, making it a great background for photo taking.
☞ Address (Ogansugyo Bridge): Areas of Jongno 6(yuk)-ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul
☞ Directions: Dongdaemun Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 4) and Exit 8. Walk for about 3-5 minutes.
Photo: Buildings of Dongdaemun Shopping Complex (left) & Pyeonghwa Fashion Town (right)
Fashion and shopping are two most highly associated words to Dongdaemun whenever anyone mentions this place. The area was designated ‘Dongdaemun Fashion Town Special Tourist Zone’ in 2002 and it gives a completely different vibe from other typical new shopping malls. Here at Dongdaemun, visitors may enjoy a unique experience of both traditional flea markets, as well as modern shopping complex.
Photo: Dongdaemun Shopping Complex, a great place for international visitors to explore
Though Dongdaemun mainly offers a variety of shopping malls for international tourists, Pyeonghwa Fashion Town is also highly recommended for all. Visitors may experience a different vibe from usual shopping, and feel a sense of traditional flea market instead. The Dongdaemun Shopping Complex largely sells fabric, buttons and other similar materials while fashion-related goods and commodities are mainly sold at Pyeonghwa Fashion Town.
- Dongdaemun Shopping Complex: 266, Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Pyeonghwa Fashion Town: 274, Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
- Dongdaemun Shopping Complex: Dongdaemun Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 4) and Exit 9. Walk for about 2-3 minutes.
- Pyeonghwa Fashion Town: Dongdaemun Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 4) and Exit 8. Walk for about 3-5 minutes.
☞ Operating hours:
- Dongdaemun Shopping Complex: Fabric 08:00-18:00 / Accessories 09:30-19:00 / Wedding-related Household Items 08:00-19:00
※ Hours vary according to stores. Closing time is ealier on Saturdays.
※ Closed on Seollal (Lunar New Year) & Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day)
- Pyeonghwa Fashion Town: 22:00-18:00 (the following day)
- Dongdaemun Shopping Complex: ddm-mall.com (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
- Pyeonghwa Fashion Town: pyounghwa.com (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Photo: Dongdaemun Design Plaza Building
Landmark of Dongdaemun, Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)! Designed by world-renowned architect, Zaha Hadid, the DDP is shaped like a swimming spiral, representing the dynamics of Dongdaemun fashion town.
Photo: Curvilinear interior of Dongdaemun Design Plaza (left) / Variety of items on sale at the design market (right)
The most outstanding feature lies in its curve and atypical architecture. Therefore, neither straight lines nor right angles can be found in this entire structure. There are seven floors (three basement levels and four aboveground levels), but astoundingly, the floors are not exactly distinguishable from the outside. The structure itself is not only unique on the outside but is also full of fascinating attractions on the inside. The complex is convenient and makes exploring enjoyable as it is divided into four segments namely ‘Art Hall’, ‘Museum’, ‘Design Shop’ and the ‘Oullim Square’.
TIP) ‘Surprise’ Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market Exclusively on Fridays & Saturdays
Do not miss out the exclusive Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market if you are at the DDP. The night market is ongoing until the last week of October, on every Friday and Saturday from 7pm to 12am. Visitors can enjoy various street foods and even unique fashion show directed by young designers!
☞ Address: 281, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
☞ Directions: Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (Seoul Subway Line 2, 5, 4) and Exit 1. Walk for about 4-5 minutes.
☞ Operating hours (within the building): Tuesday-Sunday 10:00-19:00
※ Closed on Mondays. Operates till 21:00 on Wednesdays & Fridays
☞ Website: www.ddp.or.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Photo: G-Dragon’s Hologram Concert ‘AWAKE’ (Courtesy of K-Live)
K-Live is famous attraction where many international K-pop fans will visit. K-Live is an exclusive Hologram Theater for fans to experience their favorite K-pop stars’ performances virtually. The colorful lightings and lasers give the audience an illusion of enjoying the real concert as if in a stadium.
Photo: K-Live, a great place for taking photo mementos
Visitors can get to K-Live by using an exclusive elevator located on the first level of Lotte Fittin building. Once you get to the ninth level, you will be greeted by signboards of BIGBANG and KRUNK (representative characters of YG entertainment). In addition, there are photo zones found almost every other corner and thus, the wait before the concert does not seem as any more!
☞ Address: 264 Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, Lotte Fittin Building, 9F
☞ Directions: Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (Seoul Subway Line 2, 4, 5) and Exit11 or 12. Walk for about 2-3 minutes.
☞ Operating hours: Daily 13:30-22:00
※ Closed on Mondays & on the day of Seollal (Lunar New Year) & Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day)
K-POP Experience: Adults 15,000 won / Teenagers & Children 12,000 won
BIGBANG Special / JYP Nation: Adults 33,000 won / Teenagers & Children 16,500 won
Comic Maple Story: 33,000 won
※ Discounts available when making online reservations.
☞ Website: www.klive.co.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Photo: Scenes at Dongdaemun Night Market
As the sun goes down and night draws in, a night market appears behind Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP). Street stalls with yellow tents aligning in a row, and is seen to be bustling with people 10pm. In the past, this scene was often referred to as 'nota', compound word formed from ‘noran’ and ‘tawol’, the Korean word for yellow and tower, since the market scene is located in front of Doosan Tower. Recently, the name was changed to 'Dongdaemun Sebit Market'.
Photo: Mascots of Dongdaemun Sebit Market (left) / Hats sold at the market (right)
At the entrance of the Dongdaemun Sebit market, you will be greeted by a cute owl mascot, followed by a row of seemingly countless street stalls selling a wide assortment of items. Besides, you can enjoy diverse street food for a late-night snack such as gimbap, tteokbokki, and sundae.
☞ Directions: Dongdaemun History & Culture Park (Seoul Subway Line 2, 4, 5) and Exit 3. Walk for about 2-3 minutes.
☞ Operating hours: 20:00-03:00
※ Yellow tents are set up around from 19:00-20:00 and most vendors close at around 02:00 in the morning.