Monday, May 12, 2014

Dongdaemun and Daehangno

There is an area of Seoul called Dongdaemun, which is largely known as the place to shop for clothing and accessories.  It includes the world's largest market of fabrics and clothing materials, many of which are supposedly sold at wholesale prices.  As a foreigner, we rarely get to buy things for much of a bargain, but we keep trying!  I haven't mastered the art of shopping in Korea, but this is my "go to" place for many things.  There is a toy market where I have found some things for the grand kids, and a baking market where I can actually find powdered sugar (still looking for good brown sugar), and other baking supplies.  You have never seen a shoe market as immense as the one here - too bad my feet are larger than the sizes they carry.  I don't even try to find clothing in my size - although they are slowly becoming more aware that westerners don't fit their tiny mold.  And in the rare event I decide to sew something, I wonder for hours in the fabric market until I am completely overwhelmed!

Since we moved here, they have been working on construction of a huge building where a stadium once was in the heart of Dongdaemun.  It opened a couple of months ago, so on Saturday, April 12, 2014, Bob and I decided to go see what it was.  It is called Dongdaemun Design Plaza and is designed by a world-renowned architect, Zaha Hadid.  The exterior is decorated with over 40,000 aluminum sheets, none of which are the same.  The roof is covered with grass and gardens, to create the illusion of green space in the middle of the city - at least during the summer months, I suppose.  The plaza is home to a design museum, fashion design center, lounge, museums, shops, and exhibition spaces.  I guess during the excavation process, foundations and artifacts from previous buildings were uncovered and preserved and can be seen while walking around the grounds and within a small museum.  The first photo below is an aerial view which I found online here:

We walked to Heunginjimun (or better known as Dongdaemun Gate), which is the eastern gate of the eight original gates to the city of Seoul.  We followed the wall to the north from there and ended up at Naksan Park.


Leaving the park to the west, we ended up in the Daehangno area, which is an artsy community with over 150 small theaters and lots of street art and impromptu performances by young artists. We found a great Italian restaurant and enjoyed lunch in this delightful community.  I will definitely return here again sometime!

I love to just get out and walk around this city (at least during the few months when the weather is as gorgeous as it was this day).  There are treasures to be found in every niche and corner of this vast metropolis.  When I can detach myself from the crowds, awful smells, decay, and trash that often overpower my focus, I really do enjoy some of the hidden beauties of Seoul.

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