We’re celebrating Seoul Week on ExploreMetro! We’ve teamed up with Seoul Sub→urban to bring you stories and pictures from around Seoul. Every day this week we’ll bring you one of their profiles of a Seoul Subway station, today it’s Dongdaemun (동대문역) .
Don’t forget you can download Explore Seoul for iPhone for just $0.99 this week!
Dongdaemun Station (동대문역)
Line 1 – Station #128, Line 4 – Station #421
It begins the moment you step off the subway. There, on the platform, a man calls out to passengers, hawking the belts laid out in compartmentalized boxes at his feet. Before you exit the station you’ll pass more people doing the same – with bags, with clothes, with battery-operated toys that flash and clatter – and then you go up the steps and you’re in Dongdaemun, where all this (and seemingly everything else) is happening, all the time.
Acres of wholesale markets pull in old-timers in search of bargains, while the malls that are the wellspring of Korean fashion summon the young and style-conscious. Sleek stores and developments coexist amicably with the gritty shops and restaurants that have occupied the innumerable back alleys for decades. Dongdaemun combines the crusty insouciance of the dockyards with the pulsing strut of the catwalk. Nowhere else in Seoul is quite like it.
The neighborhood is anchored by the eponymous Dongdaemun (동대문) (Great East Gate) (Exit 6) or, more formally, Heunginjimun (흥인지문) (Gate of Rising Benevolence). One of Joseon-era Seoul’s four main gates, it was originally built in 1396, though the current structure dates from an 1869 reconstruction. Besides being a beautiful example of traditional Korean architecture it serves as a useful reference point amid the often hectic surroundings.