is a convenient location, it's very easy to get here. Also, there
are a lot of eateries that offer delicious food at reasonable
prices. That's why I come here often."
clean around here. Also, this is a place I can sit for a long time
and talk with my friends."
"I came here
after school. There are a lot of things to see; like fashion.
Besides, there are many people here, and it's interesting just to
watch them pass by."
alway busy with many people. You can find boutiques with
specialized designs, exciting theme cafes, and fusion restaurants
where one can taste unique dishes. All these stores are lined up
side by side along the streets and back alleys of Apgujeongdong.
This is a place that leads the fashion and culture of Korea's
youth; the mecca of fashion.
"Most of all,
Apgujeongdong is the street of fashion, so you can find the latest
fashion here. Also, across the department store, Galleria, there
are a number of small shops that sell unique accessories. And
further up the street, you will find many world famous fashion
brands and Korean designer shops. What you shouldn't miss in
Apgujeongdong are the things to eat. Across Galleria, there is an
Indian restaurant, Ganga. There are also three Vietnamese
restaurants, a Mongolian restaurant, Italian restaurants, and many
others. There are many more restaurants that offer good food at
reasonable prices. Also, there are many 'bars' and 'fusion
restaurants' with unique interior designs. I hope you don't miss
As Mr. Yi Seong-min,
born and raised in Apgujeongdong recommends, we start our tour of
Apgujeongdong from the department store, Galleria. It's the area
between the Galleria and the Hyundai department stores, extending
about 2.5 square kilometers, that attract so many youngsters. It's
in this area that various shops and cafes are concentrated. So,
now, let's begin our tour.
One of the most
famous places in Apgujeongdong is the so-called 'Rodeo street.' Of
course, the name 'Rodeo' was taken from the avenue of haute couture
in Beverley Hills of the United States. The Rodeo street in
Apgujeongdong refers to one of the back alleys where McDonalds, the
fastfood restaurant, is located. What you see here are various
fashion shops; each of them boasting of their individuality. One of
the most popular shops among them is one called the 'Collected
shop' which deals with all the young designer clothes. Among the
fashion accessory shops, Dolmen's is quite famous. At Dolmen's you
can buy some fine handmade accessories at reasonable prices. The
fashion accessories were designed by six young designers who
graduated from art colleges. Ms. Yi Yeon-seon introduces us to the
"Most of the
accessories we have at Dolmen's are handmade. You can see some
unique and exotic accessories here. These days, leather bracelets
and hip-hop chains have been selling well. It must be because we
are nearing the summer season. We have many Japanese customers
also. The Japanese visitors normally buy rings. They say the rings
are much cheaper here than they are in Japan. And they seem to
prefer the so-called chromatic rings; it's a special way to process
silver rings. They don't shine, but offer a kind of heavy metal
feeling. They favor simple designs with a little bit of delicate
workmanship. Also, we have pendants with different zodiac animals.
Foreigners find they are unique, and they seem to like them a
One of the most
exciting part of being in Apgujeongdong is to watch all the
different people on the streets. They are all unique, refined and
exceptionally fashioned, as if they just walked out of the latest
fashion magazines. Take for example, a young girl with a tight
fluorescent T-shirt and trailing hip hop trousers. There's another
interesting young lady whose dressed from head to toe in green...
pale green hairband, green shoes and a green dress. Many of the
young people show bold and individual styles of their own. Just
take a seat and watch them as they pass by.
Most of the time,
the hairstyle, accessories and the fashion of Apgujeongdong spread
all across the nation; say in just one or two months. It's no
exaggeration; it is the cradle of Korean fashion and culture.
About a hundred
meters from the Galleria toward the Hyundai department store, you
can see a small stone monument. On the monument reads an
inscription that informs us that a pavilion called 'Apgu' used to
be located here. So, this must have something to do with the name
of this area, Apgujeongdong. We are going to ask Mr. Park Gyong-nyong박경룡,
standing director of the Seoul Culture and History Association
"The name of
this district, Apgujeong, originates from the pavilion named 'Apgujeong'
which was built by the river here by Han Myong-hwe, one of the
meritorious retainers during the reign of King Sejo of the Choson
Dynasty. Ever since then, the area has been called Apgujeong. He
named his pavilion 'apgujeong' after his penname. It was a very
large and luxurious pavilion and was considered an attraction of
the Han river area. Han Myong-hwe was a politician who wielded
great power during the reign of three successive kings; King Sejo,
King Yejong, and King Seong-jong. The reason he built a pavilion
here was so he would have a place to rest by the riverside and
watch the seagulls. That's why he named the pavilion 'apgujeong'
meaning the pavilion of ducks and seagulls. The area was part of
Kyonggi province until 1963, but with the expansion of Seoul, it
became one of the districts of Seoul. "
Until 1963 when
Apgujeongdong first became part of Seoul, the entire area was an
orchard of pear trees. The area used to be white with pear blossoms
in spring. From the pavilion, one could see 'Jeo-ja-do' islet with
its mulberry trees creating a wonderful picture and the peaks of
Mt. Buk-han further away toward the north. That was Apgujeongdong
of the past. Now, here is Mr. Yi Tae-won vice-president of
Apgujeong Merchants Association, who recollects the old
"I moved here
25 years ago. At that time, this was an empty plain. We had a
two-storied house here that overlooked the Han river. The roads
were not paved then. They said there was going to be a 50 meter
wide paved street and that a bus would run along that street. At
that time, I couldn't imagine it. Now when looking back, I'm amazed
at all the changes that occurred here in the past twenty years. You
see the Korea Housing Bank over there? There used to be a pond
there, and there were so many mosquitos in summer, that the village
people went to the district office to ask if they could get rid of
the mosquitos. Now, the place has become a luxurious shopping
There is an old
saying in Korea that goes 'the mulberry field turns into the blue
sea.' Well, it refers to the violent changes in nature. And it
seems to apply to Apgujeongdong perfectly. There have been rapid
and tremendous changes in the area. And the beginning of such
changes was made in the early 1970s. On what used to be an empty
plain, a large apartment complex was built. The so-called 'orange
tribe' represented by the youngsters of the neo-rich began to
gather in the area, and soon it became a luxurious shopping area.
It was since then that Apgujeongdong emerged as the center of
Along the street of
Apgujeongdong are many unique theme cafes. The so-called 'Saju
cafe' is where you can have your fortune told while having a cup of
tea. 'Saju' or four pillars refers to the time, date, month and the
year you were born. One tells the fortune of a person based on
those four elements. Let's visit one of those theme cafes; 'Saju
gong-gan' meaning 'four pillar space.'
What's this year's
fortune going to be like for me?
Let me see. This
year, it seems you will get the chance for a promotion in your
workplace, if you are a student, you will earn your degree. This is
the year you will reap the fruits of your efforts."
It's a comfortable
cafe with a white modern interior. There are soft beige sofas,
large windows from which the bright spring sunlight shines into the
cafe. You can meet and talk with the fortune tellers who claim they
have studied the Asian philosophy and through the talks find you've
recovered your hopes.
Other than the saju
cafes, there is one called 'jail club' where you enjoy evening
drinks while handcuffed and locked up in a cell. The 'Once in a
Blue Moon' is a jazz cafe that offers live jazz performances every
After looking around
all the fashionable cafes and shops, it's time for a good meal.
Apgujeongdong can satisfy everyone including those with particular
culinary needs. There are many fusion restaurants that offer dishes
from the east and the west. Today, we decided to visit 'Deung-na-mu-jib',
a restaurant that serves the Korean pork dish, 'sam-gyop-sal'
cooked in western style. Mr. Kim Jin-ho, the owner of the
restaurant explains the unique dish.
serve frozen sliced pork when you go for the 'sam-gyop-sa' dish. We
serve it in lumps 200 grams each and not frozen. It's seasoned with
wine and decorated with bay leaves. The pork is then served in
juniper cases. What looks good may taste better. We take good care
of the table setting as well. Besides the wine, we apply various
natural ingredients for seasoning, which is, in fact, the secret
knowhow of my restaurant. Now, when you eat, you slice the lump of
pork yourself with a toothed knife on a wooden board. We also serve
four different kinds of sauce. I've developed the normal Korean
dish 'sam-gyop-sal' into a unique dish to meet the tastes of the
Apgujeongdong is continuously
changing. Now, the luxurious atmosphere represented by the
so-called 'orange tribe' is gradually giving way to a new and
popular culture where people can enjoy their day without emptying
out their bank accounts. However, Apgujeongdong is still crowded
with the hip youngsters of Korea.