When places lose their charm and go through hard times, it is easy to leave them behind, seeking the new up-and-coming place to spend your money on. When we do this, we doom a place to be full of empty shops and its people to lose their lively hood. The challenge for tourists, especially those who understand the impact their choices have on locals, is to not always travel to the hottest destinations but seek out places that are being left behind. Although Myeongdong 명동 is a shadow of its former glory, you should not be quick to leave it off your list of places to visit.
Myeongdong is a great location to stay while in Seoul. You have good access to buses and the subway system to get you anywhere you want to go. Your also 30-45 mins from Itaewon, the Palaces, Hongdae, Mapo, Insandong, and Gangnam. You are also within walking distance or a two-stop metro ride from Gwangju market, Dongdaemun, and Namdaemun.
In Myeongdong, you get access to many famous K-beauty brands without the upcharge of other places like Gangnam and the Largest department stores in Korea (Shinsegae 신세계 and Lotte 롯데). Myeongdong Is also known for its K-pop stores specializing in caring for all the CDs and goodies a fan could want.
Despite being hurt by Covid, Myeongdong is still full of Michelin-star restaurants. These restaurants are incredibly affordable. I’m talking 10,000 KRW, which is about $8 USDA. Let me forwarn you, you have to go early or wait in hour-long lines, which is why I’ll have to go back when they open next time I’m in Seoul.
Although Its cafes are few, it is home to the Famous Pink Pool Cafe, The Spot Fabulous with delicious cheesecake, and many animal cafes. Obviously, the cat one is the best.
In my opinion, a hidden gem in Myeongdong is the underground shopping area at the station on Line 4 between Namdemoon and Myeongdong station, below Shinsegae Department Store. From record stores to coin and antique shops, it has an entirely different vibe from the streets above.
One of my favorite things about Myeongdong is the street vendors. Though there is a significantly less amount of them now, they are still a great way to sample the most popular Korean snacks and street food in one place. I personally recommend the Hottock.
Lastly, those who enjoy visiting places of worship on their travels should not miss the Myeongdong Cathedral, home to the Archdiocese of Korea. The Cathedral was consecrated in 1898 and began pushing for the democratization of Korea. Still, today it pushes for human rights in Korea.
My hope for Myeongdong is that the street vendors come back and for it to be transformed into something more than what it was before. Maybe turning into an area for local artists to thrive or perhaps something else entirely. This district has so much potential, and I hope the empty storefronts get transformed and reopened with the influx of tourists in the latter half of this year.
All The Hot Spots
The Spot Fabulous
더 스팟 패퓰러스
서울 중구 명동2길 22 1.2층
Style Nada Pink Pool Cafe
스타일난다 핑크불 카페
서울 중구 명동8길 37-8
Cat Cafe 고양이카페
서울 중구 명동8길 37-14 3층
66-4 Chungmuro 2(i)-ga Jung-gu Seo
Lotte Department Store
1 Sogong-dong Jung-gu Seoul
Shisegae Department Store
52-5 Chungmuro 1(il)-ga Jung-gu Seoul
Line 4 Myeongdong Station towards exit 4/5
Line 2 Euljiro 1 Station twords exit 4/5
Heohyeon Underground Shopping (antiques)
1-1 회현지하쇼핑센터 – 74 Myeongdong-gil Jung-gu Seoul
This is located near/below Shinsegae Department Store
Sites To See
Myeongdong Cathlioc Cathedral
서울 중구 명동길
74- 74 Myeongdong-gil Jung-gu Seoul
명동 교자 본 잠
Michilen Star 2021
서울 중구 명동10길 29
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