The Euljiro area is an older area in the historic part of Seoul that isn’t as well-known as its parallel Jongno street to the north but is still more than interesting on its own.
This area roughly encompasses the surrounding areas between Euljiro 1-ga to just before the Dongdaemun History and Culture Park station. The western end of this area is easily accessed via Euljiro 1-ga station which is just the northern tip of the popular Myeongdong area, nearly synonymous with shopping and eating. An increasing number of Seoul’s visitors are staying in this area due to the rising number of hotels, some of which houses the city’s most popular rooftop bars. Also near here is the iconic Myeongdong Cathedral which is not only one of the city’s most representative gothic-style buildings but has been offering mass and serving as an important component of Korean society since 1898
This area also marks one end of the famous Cheonggyecheon Stream which stretches onwards for 11km. The restored stream is one of Seoul’s signature ecological achievements and is popular year-round but especially in autumn during the annual Seoul Lantern Festival. Nevertheless, you’ll find couples, families, and office workers here on any day enjoying a bit of nature right in the heart of downtown Seoul.
Heading further eastwards, Korean food lovers won’t want to miss out the Korean Cuisine Cultural Center operated by the Korean Food Foundation. For anyone who loves or wants to find out more about Korean cuisine, this center houses exhibitions, Korean food-making classes, offers tasty Korean meals, and even has a section to shop for Korean goods. The Korean cooking classes come with a fee but the exhibitions and the center itself are free to explore!
The areas around Euljiro 3ga and Euljiro 4ga have a noticeably older feel with many mom and pop shops, restaurants, and businesses that have been running here now for decades. If you’re looking for authentic local eats and drinks this is a great place to visit for its many traditional eateries serving classic Korean favorites. Don’t expect spacious and tidy restaurants with exceptional service but rather rough spaces and boisterous crowds with gruff servers dishing out local eats like grilled intestines, soondae (or blood sausage) stews, chueotang (or ground loach fish stew), and more. At night, a number of pojangmacha or temporary tents for cheap drinks and eats set up around the area as well. The inexpensive but filling eats around here makes it especially popular for the workers and owners of the many nearby metal shops for get-togethers and drinks and you definitely won’t find many tourists here.
That isn’t to say there aren’t any famous food alleys in the area. Near the Euljiro 2-ga area is the golbaenggi or whelks alley where the big sea snails are mixed in a spicy dressing with green onions, minced garlic, and other ingredients and served with gyeranmari, or rolled up omelets. Near the Euljiro 4-ga alley you can find the neighborhood of Ojangdong which is famous for the decades-old restaurants serving Hamheung-style naengmyeon or chilled noodles. Unlike the Pyongyang-style naengmyeon which comes in a chilled broth, the noodles for the naengmyeon in Hamheung-style are usually extra chewy from the potato starch and the noodles are mixed with a spicy-sweet sauce with marinated raw skate.
Also near Euljiro 4-ga street are many small shops selling home furniture, appliances, lighting fixtures, and other house furnishings. If you’re into home decorating, it’s a great area to pick up some home items or even get inspired with generally lower prices here than larger markets. Bakers won’t want to miss out on Bangsan Market which is particularly well known for the many shops that sells baking equipment, tools, and ingredients. The Jungbu Market is a smaller-sized traditional market but is still worth checking out for a fun local experience with plenty of snacks and eats.