Today we’re taking a look at the busy and popular neighborhood of Sinchon. The main Sinchon neighborhood is perhaps best known as being home to Yonsei University, one of Korea’s most prestigious universities and with a long history that dates back to 1885. The university’s medical field is well known as the university’s roots traces back to the first modern hospital practicing western medicine in Korea was established that hospital, which now sits next to Yonsei University in Sinchon, is Severance Hospital and is one of the nation’s major hospitals. Well known for the hospital’s technology and the skills and expertise of the medical doctors, its also highly sought out by medical patients from all over the world.
The sprawling Yonsei University campus is quite scenic and has served as the setting of numerous Korean dramas and movies with its mix of Western and Korean architecture. Make a visit to the campus’ amphitheater for some nice views on clear days. The university’s international exchange and Korean language programs are also well known making it a popular place to study for international students. If you’re into history, the Yonsei University Museum located within the campus has permanent exhibition halls focusing on art, pre-historic history, Goryeo and Joseon Dynasty history, and more. This museum is free but closed on weekends.
Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts can check out the small peak of Ansan which sits just behind the Yonsei University campus. The mountain is not tall at just about 300 meters above sea level and only takes about one to two hours to the peak depending on which trail you take. There’s a smoke signal station at the top that was used in the Joseon Dynasty to signal any danger. Also at the foothills of Ansan, near the east gate of Yonsei University, is Bongwonsa or Bongwon Temple. This peaceful temple has a history that dates back more than 1,000 years and is especially known for the Yongsanjae Ceremony, an important Buddhist ritual that has also been designated a Korean Important Intangible Cultural Property.
Across from the university’s front entrance, the neighborhood is a popular college “town” of sorts with a wide variety of restaurants, cafes, and bars. Near the university’s main entrance there are pedestrian tunnels with street art that reflects the youthful and energetic vibes of the neighborhood. There are also shopping malls like the Hyundai Department store as well as numerous international brands and boutique shops. If you’d rather catch a movie, there are many movie theaters around.
Restaurant choices are aplenty in this area with everything from Korean to international cuisine. There are a number of galbi, or beef short rib, restaurants that are famous here. The many students in the area combined with the fact that the infamous nightlife of Hongdae nearby means there are also many choices for Korean drinking spots and Western-style bars that are buzzing until the morning hours, especially on weekends.
For a bit of history, the Sinchon Tourist Information Center is located within the old Sinchon train station. Originally opened in 1920, it’s the oldest existing train station in Seoul and, though the train doesn’t run through here anymore, visitors can stop to pick up tourist maps, brochures, or even simply take a rest. Don’t miss the past and current photos of Sinchon and the surrounding Seodaemun-gu area to compare how this area has really changed.
The lively Sinchon area is also home to numerous festivals that takes place annually right on its streets. In recent summers, the neighborhood has hosted the the Sinchon Wake Up City Festa, in which giant water slides are set up with EDM music and live performances. Another popular summer festival is the Sinchon Water Gun Festival and the Sinchon Beer Festival. In wintertime one can attend the Sinchon Christmas Street Festival for performances, food vendors, and cultural activities.