Alleyway Stories, the Record of a City Traveler


- Interesting stories about special alleys in Gyeonggi-do -

  • -Time travel that brings back old memories -



    Alleyways continue to surprise us in all sorts of way. A narrow alley will typically be connected to another alley and will often widen into a broad street, sometimes leading us to a market. Alleys contain thousands of stories of our childhood and embody the memories of so many people. Tradition and modernity often exist side by side in alleyways. We are going to hear the stories of our neighbors.


    1. The Hangeul Fresco Alley Commemorating the Life of King Sejong in the Yeoju Hangeul Market


    Yeoju Hangeul Market img


    A special principle is adhered to in the Yeoju Hangeul Market. Characteristically, the signs of all the shops in the market are written in Hangeul, the Korean alphabet. The franchise ice cream shops and cosmetics stores that are so familiar all have Hangeul signs, too, unlike in other regions. King Sejong must be very glad to see all this evidence of his great legacy from his Yeongneung Tomb. The bronze statue of King Sejong and various sculptures depicting his childhood have been erected here and there in the streets of the marketplace. In addition, chairs and exhibits are modeled after the shapes of Korean letters to add to the symbolism of the market. The walls of two alleys in Zone 3 of the Hangeul Market are covered with frescoes - murals showing local attractions such as an old barbershop and hot cooked rice coming out of the royal kitchen. The murals in the right-hand alley are particularly interesting as they depict the conception dream of King Sejong and some of his brilliant achievements. Although the Hangeul Market is a permanent market, it becomes even more active on five-day market days. As King Sejong created Hangeul for the public and the tomb of King Sejong is located in Yeoju, the existence of the 'Hangeul' theme market may look natural, but what is impressive is the enthusiastic love of Hangeul of the people in the small market and their power of execution.


    Address: 24-1, Sejong-ro 14-gil, Yeoju, Gyeonggi-do

    Tel.: +82-31-886-7484 (Yeoju Hangeul Market Culture & Tourism Project Group)


    Recommended visiting time: 12:00~17:00


    2. Haenglidan-gil in Suwon, a culture street near the fortress


    Haenglidan-gil in Suwon img


    Haenglidan-gil is the hottest place in Suwon. It’s located in Haenggung-dong near the Temporary Palace, Hawseomun (West Gate) and Janganmun (North Gate) of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress. People began calling the place Haenglidan-gil, or Haenggung-dong Café Street, after many unique cafés opened in the area. It began to receive attention after several cafés became famous via SNS and many young people started to visit the formerly rather dull alleyway. Since then, more than ninety cafés have sprung up in the alley like mushrooms after the rain, causing some people to worry about gentrification. However, young restaurants with fresh ideas have been opened, while ‘Into the Spring’, a photo studio specializing in black-and-white photos, and ‘O’Brothers’, a barbershop for young gentlemen, have become famous, helping to transform the alley into an active culture street in Suwon.

    What is really notable is that Haenglidan-gil is not a colorful shopping district but an alleyway connected to Suwon Hwaseong Fortress. The alley contains the memories of many people and embodies the coexistence of tradition and modernity, such a typical of Korea. You can hear the stories of Haenggung-dong in the alleyways with their low walls and red brick houses, amid the thick scent of coffee, while visiting Hwaseong Fortress, a world cultural heritage.


    Address: Sinpung-ro and Jeongjo-ro, Paldal-gu, Suwon, Gyeonggi-do  

    Tel.: +82-31-251-4514 (Janganmun Gate Tourist Information Center)

    Recommended visiting time: 12:00~21:00



    3. Yangpyeong Market Street - filled with 'Jeong', the warm human affection of neighbors

    Yangpyeong Market Street


    The most interesting alleys are the ones you find near a marketplace. Markets have so many interesting things to see, eat and buy, and are filled with the warm affection of people haggling noisily. The marketplace has a bundle of stories of each neighbor, and the alleys in the market area are dazzlingly beautiful even in winter. Yangpyeong Market Street in Yangpyeong is an alley with the thick feel for humanity. In particular, as a large five-day market with a long history, Yangpyeong Market is transformed into a festival site on every 3rd, 8th, 13th,18th, 23rd and 28th day of the month when all the villagers and merchants come and mingle together. Yangpyeong Market Street is located on the left-hand side of Yanggeungyo Bridge near Yangpyeong Station. What you’ll see first is the locals preparing for winter. Wearing thick coats, they are busy selecting warm fur gloves and hats. There are radishes and Chinese cabbages for late gimjang (kimchi-making for the winter) and fragrant deodeok and balloon flower roots. The smell of the buckwheat pancakes on the griddle with perilla oil pulls your step. A slice of buckwheat pancake made with Chinese cabbage is only 1000 won. You’ll really regret it if you don’t get to sample it. As Yangpyeong was the first place in Korea to declare its commitment to environmentally-friendly farming, Yangpyeong Market naturally deals in environmentally-friendly agricultural products, and is now emerging as a famous tourist attraction thanks to the opening of the metropolitan subway. 


    Address: Yanggeun-ri, Yangpyeong-eup, Yangpyeong-fun, Gyeonggi-do  


    Recommended visiting time: 12:00~18:00



    4. A Multicultural Food Street in Ansan


    Multicultural Food Street in Ansan img



    Wongok-dong, located opposite Ansan Station, is sometimes referred to as a ‘borderless town’ as it’s a unique area where many foreigners from all around the world and naturalized Koreans live together. Two out of every three persons walking in the area’s alleys and streets are most likely foreigners. It is literally a small global village of global citizens. The local banks and clinics are also open at weekends for the foreigners who work in the nearby industrial complex and find themselves short of time on weekdays.  

    About 70% of the more than 400 establishments in the area are eating houses for foreign nationals. Delicious foods from around the world are served in every alley, including Chinese, Vietnamese and Uzbek cuisine, earning Ansan a reputation as a 'special multicultural food district'. The restaurants in this global town both appease the feelings of nostalgia of foreigners who have come to Korea to achieve their dreams while introducing all manner of exotic foods to Koreans. An Indonesian restaurant in the alley has attracted a lot of attention since a recent TV broadcast about travel, and its most popular dishes include Mi goring (fried noodles) and Nasi goring (fried rice). You can also buy diverse ingredients from China and Southeast Asian countries at a shop inside the alley.


    Address: Multi-culture 1-gil and 2-gil, Wongok-dong, Danwon-gu, Ansan, Gyeonggi-do

    Tel.: +82-31-481-3301

    Recommended visiting time: 11:00~20:00


    5. An unusual architecture tour in Paju Book City!


    Paju Book City img


    Paju Book City, the largest place in Asia specializing in books and publication, is packed with more than 200 publishers, printing houses, design companies, and book distributors. It is a huge cultural community where all the processes of publication, including the planning, editing, printing and distribution of books, are carried out. Here you can see many unique buildings and structures lining the streets, including a number of buildings designed by famous architects that harmonize well with the surrounding environment and regularly appear in the media and commercials. The highlight, however, is the building of the Asia Publication Culture & Information Center, the central building in Paju Book City, which is distinguished by its unique shape consisting of a parade of Gothic letters. Its first floor contains the ‘Forest of Wisdom,’ which is renowned for its massive and magnificent bookshelves. The streets are also lined with a multitude of unique bookstores, book cafés, galleries and museums. Among the most popular places are Book Café Noon of Hyohyeong Publishing, the Mimesis Art Museum of The Open Books Co., and the‘Pinocchio Museum, which is built on the theme of the children’s story Pinocchio. Students majoring in architecture come to the area to admire the special character of each block and building, while photographers come to take photos of the refined streets.  


    Address: 145 Hoedong-gil, Paju, Gyeonggi-do

    Tel.: +82-31-955-0050 (Paju Book City Foundation)


    Recommended visiting time: 11:00~18:00


    6. Gukje Joongang Market Shopping Street in Pyeongtaek, “the Itaewon of Gyeonggi-do”


    Gukje Joongang Market img



    The Gukje Joongang Market in Pyeongtaek has developed its own unique form over the years due to the influence of the nearby U.S. military base. The leisurely appearance of foreigners at weekends walking on streets decorated with the Taeggeukgi, Korea’s national flag, and the Stars and Stripes creates an exotic feeling like a shopping complex in some foreign country. Recently, restaurants serving diverse cuisines, including Turkish, Thai and Vietnamese, have opened in all the alleys connected to the main Shopping Street, the central street of the market. Nowadays the place is known as “the Itaewon of Gyeonggi-do” as many domestic and foreign tourists visit the area. If you take a gentle stroll along the alleys you might stumble on to some hidden treasures including clothes with unique patterns and unusual military props.

    The Gukje Joongang Market is located in Songtan, which is famous for a dietary culture that combines Korean and Western ingredients due to the influence of the U.S. military base. The representative foods are Songtan Sausage Stew and Songtan hamburgers. The spicy sausage stew is great, but the Songtan hamburger, a Korean style of hamburger, is a specialty of Songtan that’s been loved by many people for quite some time now. It consists of meat patties, ham and fried eggs placed between thick slices of bread together with plenty of fresh vegetables to create a rich fulfilling taste. Though it doesn’t feature any particular brand of tomato ketchup or mayonnaise, the Songtan hamburger has a familiar yet addictive taste that differentiates it from plain old franchise hamburgers.  


    Address: Jungangsijang-ro and Shopping Street in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi-do

    Tel.: +82-31-666-4275


    Recommended visiting time: 11:00~18:00