Antique Hunting in Seoul
There’s a theory that tourists in foreign countries are always on the lookout for “authenticity.” When it comes to shopping, this translates into a search for antiques. Seoul contains its share of valuable old objects for sale, but walking away with a piece of Korean history is not a simple matter.
Where to go
Dapsimni---home to Korea’s largest single concentration of antique shops in four large buildings.
Great both for wandering around and for serious shopping. Shops vary in content from antique Korean furniture and pottery to Chinese reproductions, Chinese-style items, antique agricultural machinery, stone carvings, paintings, and plenty more. Age and quality vary wildly. For old wooden chest-type furniture, SEOUL recommends Jung Dea-young’s Donginbang shop, located at #154, 154 Samhui-dong, Dapsimni.
Getting there: Dapsimni Station, Line 5, Exit 2. Head one row of buildings from the main road and you’ll find the buildings of the antique market.
Insa-dong---Perhaps Seoul’s most famous center of “authenticity,” this is, unlike Dapsimni, at the heart of the conventional tourist trail. The main thoroughfare and several streets leading off it are home to various antique shops. If it’s real, it will definitely be expensive here. Try Tongmungwan for ancient books and documents, Dongmundang for old paintings and calligraphic works, and Gayajae for stone Buddha figures and tiles.
Getting there: Anguk Station, Line 3, Exit 6. Walk straight ahead for 50 meters, then turn left down Insa-dong’s main street.
Itaewon---Seoul’s most famous “foreigner neighborhood”
Itaewon used to have plenty of antique shops, but only a handful remain. Try Chosun Antique (02-793-3726), or Koreana Antique, both of which offer high-quality replicas of classical Korean and Chinese furniture. The lighter-grained pieces here appeal more to the tastes of foreigners who want something that is beautiful and at the same time can fit in and function as a useful piece of furniture in a modern home. Expect to pay from 200,000---300,000 to several million won.
Getting there: Itaewon Station, Line 6, Exit 2. Walk straight ahead until you come to the corner opposite Chosun Antique.