Gyeongbokgung Station 광화문역 (Line 3), Exit 3
One promise I made to myself when I went on this trip: I won’t rely too much on my itinerary (not that I had a comprehensive one to begin with), and just randomly get off a station that had a certain ring to its name and explore whatever it has to offer. But to be perfectly honest, Seochon wasn’t completely foreign to me. I’ve caught a glimpse of it while reading a magazine so I thought this is the best time to see the world outside photographs.
Seochon presented itself as a dream yet a familiar childhood face. A dream because it’s the kind of neighborhood I wish to live in if I ever get blessed the life of 60. A dream because it’s the type of place that offers everything but not all the commercialized stores. It’s a haven for people who wish to get out of the crazy that is Gyeongbokgung. It’s a few steps away from the grand palace but it’s not written on tourist leaflets which is why it’s mostly cramped with locals – a trait I hope it treasures for a long time.
However, I see it as a childhood friend’s face: a little familiar yet estranged, easy to navigate but you get the feeling of wanting to get lost in all its side streets. Restaurants and cafes offer food that are easy on the palate but with a twist — pretty much sums up the neighborhood itself.
Unlike other neighborhoods in Seoul where independent lifestyle shops could be intimidating, that is far from the concept Seochon is going after. It’s very much welcoming, opening up warmly to anyone curious enough to pass by its humble spot. Whether you’re a creator yourself or just trying to get a glimpse of a lesser known Seoul neighborhood, I’m pretty sure you’ll find something entertaining here. I think it’s the first neighborhood I saw that has an arcade place (see photo above) that lends itself to old and young people alike. Games are one of those things that don’t require a lot of language so even tourists can enjoy it.
This neighborhood, despite its numerous idiosyncrasies, reminds me of my favorite Anguk station. It’s also a place packed with creative free people short of the widely known cosmetic shops, which I think is a nice breather for Seoul where an Etude House is almost everywhere you look.
I remember the neighborhood being a little noisy – or maybe it’s because I visited at lunch time – but it was much more important how slow things go in Seochon. Friends chatting happily inside coffee shops do not give you the impression that they are there for a quick break from work; they have a frame in mind and that is to enjoy the company of being with other people. Even the occasional tourist in their rented hanboks can’t help but take in everything slowly while they were here. It’s almost as if every shop you pass by will gravitate you towards walking a little more consciously, stop taking photographs and breathe in the scene you are in.
The light chatter, the laughter from the arcade and the music from the lifestyle shops all give me nice memories of the slow life they enjoy in Seochon.
Live a little slower,