What to see
Pak No-soo Art Museum
Pak No-soo was an artist famous for his coloured ink paintings, and the house he lived in (above) now serves as a museum of his work. The heritage building has Korean-style gables and a yard of stone structures and bamboo.
Sajik Park (below) may be the oldest part of this ancient neighbourhood – its two altars date back to 1395. Rituals to the gods of land and grain still take place here twice a year, though it’s a pleasant spot on any day.
1-48 Sajik-dong, Jongno-gu
Seochon is bookended in the west by the sheer cliffs of Mount Inwang, at the base of which lies the valley of Suseong-dong. Half-landscaped, half-natural, this awe-inspiring spot (below) was famously painted by Joseon dynasty artist Jeong Seon.
Where to shop
This brightly lit store stocks keepsakes such as wooden cat figurines and postcards. Many of its items, such as clothing and bags, are made using recycled materials. It also sells hand-drawn maps of the neighbourhood.
SEE ALSO: Essential guide to Seoul, South Korea
Where to eat and drink
This market draws youthful crowds with its tasty snacks. The longest lines are for spicy fried rice cakes (below), which are served at Original Grandmother’s Gireum Tteok-bokki. Two stalls have this name, and both claim to be the original one.
If you’re looking for a place to relax in style, look no further than this second-storey bar about a block north of Gyeongbokgung station. The owner, Kim Jae-geun, has a voluminous record collection (below) and serves beers from around the world.
There’s no shortage of cafes in Seochon, but Pureun Yanggwibi (below) is one of a kind, with a remarkable interior that includes part of a rock cliff – it’s near the base of Mount Inwang. Its name means Blue Poppy, though the awning is marked Lhasa Cafe. Try the traditional jujube tea.
69 Okil-gil, Jongno-gu
In the same alley as where modernist writer Yi Sang used to live, Pizzafication Jaha (above) is one of many Italian restaurants that have sprouted up in Seochon. But this one is different: Try the tartufata pizza, which is topped with oysters and truffle oil.
135-5 Tongin-dong, Jongno-gu
Stepping into this traditional bar (below) is like entering a museum of wild herbs. The deep bowls of makgeolli (rice wine) are medicinally enhanced, and the side dishes are magnificent – try the mountain-vegetable pancake or cloud-ear fungus with vegetables and seasoning.
205-1 Pirun-dong, Jongno-gu
Though Seochon now has about a dozen bakeries, Mill is leading the way with its tasty breads (below) such as brioche and olive ciabatta. Fresh coffee is served, and there’s a long table for those who want to enjoy fresh purchases on the premises.
6 Jahamunro 9-gil, Jongno-gu
Yonggeumok & Tosokchon
Yonggeumok (41-2 Jahamun-ro, Jongno-gu) has been serving loach stew since 1932 and has two wondrously creamy versions. The restaurant was mentioned in the 2017 Michelin Guide to Seoul. Another traditional stalwart is the ginseng chicken soup restaurant Tosokchon (below), which is one block south.
– TEXT BY MATTHEW CRAWFORD
PHOTOS: KOREAN TOURISM ORGANIZATION, VISITSEOUL.NET, SUPPLIED
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.