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Thursday, 30 May 2013

Streets of Seoul, Part III: Sinsa-dong Garosu-gil

PSY, this girl will spice up for your next MV.

Indeed, there are lots of garosu-gils (“tree-lined streets”) in Seoul. Yet, Garosu-gil in Sinsa-dong, Seoul Gangnam-gu is known among both citizens and foreign tourists alike, not just because it is a beautiful promenade in the middle of the city, but because it caters to unique cultural tastes and artistic sensibilities. It is located at DosandaeroBuk 5-gil (Dosan Boulevard North 5th Street) where this boulevard is bestowed from Korean Nationalist and President of Provisional Government of Korean Republic, Dosan Ahn Chang-ho (Born: November 9th, 1878 - Died: March 10th, 1938).

Adorned with ginkgo trees, Garosu-gil stretches less than a kilometer in Sinsa-dong, but is still considered a main area within the greater Gangnam area (business center in southeast Seoul). It’s true that Garosu-gil boasts splendid scenery in the spring and fall with golden ginkgo trees, but it dazzles visitors mainly due to its collection of quaint stores and its unique bohemian atmosphere.

Garosu-gil housed art galleries in the 1980s and small shops in the 1990s. During the last decade, modern stores began proliferating the streets, alongside a number of interior design shops. Its current makeup came from an increased number of stores run by designers, artists, and stylists who studied abroad and came back in throngs in the late 90s, early 2000s. 

The array of open studios, ateliers, cafés, restaurants, bars, fashion shops, and prop shops blend together for a chic cityscape. While other streets in Gangnam are said to be fancy and modern, Garosu-gil presents a fascinating dichotomy of the old and the new, the coolness of modern city life and the warmth of days gone by. Some people claim that Garosu-gil resembles Soho, New York; others liken it to a European street.

Garosu-gil embraces a more global mindset while preserving Korean sentiments. It is an ideal place for going on a date, hanging out with friends, taking pictures, and film-making. Garosu-gil will captivate you if you like to walk, have a cup of tea, or just simply look around. One caveat, though, is that there are three places in Seoul claiming the name Sinsa-dong with different Hanja Usages:
- Sinsa-dong at Eunpyeong-gu (新寺洞)
- Sinsa-dong at Gwanak-gu (新士洞)
- Sinsa-dong at Gangnam-gu (新沙洞)

If you take a taxi, let the driver know that your destination is Sinsa-dong in Gangnam-gu.