When people heard that I’m currently living in Korea they usually just assume that I live in the capital city, Seoul. But no, actually I live in Incheon (인천) or officially Incheon Metropolitan City. It is the 3rd most populous city in South Korea after Seoul and Busan. It’s located in northwestern South Korea, bordering Seoul and Gyeonggi Province to the east. That’s why I went to Seoul a lot. It’s just 1-2 hour by bus or subway, depends on which part of Seoul.
You must’ve ever heard of Incheon International Airport. Yup, the world’s 2nd best airport is located in this city. It’s built on artificially created land between Yengjongdo (Yeongjong Island) and Yongyudo (Yongyu Islands). It’s connected to the mainland by Yeongjong Bridge and Incheon Bridge. But even though the airport is in Incheon, it’s not that close to the district where I live. Incheon is quite big!
Because Indonesian pronounce all letters, I’ve heard a lot of Indonesian pronounce “Incheon” incorrectly. Even on the international airport information announcement. The right way to pronounce Incheon is in-chon, not in-che-on. Seoul also should be pronounced more like so-ul than se-o-ul.
I’ve been only posting about interesting places in Seoul, but Incheon also has so many interesting places. So, I’ll post some places that I’ve visited or still on my bucket list! This first part covers chinatown area.
Chinatown in Incheon is the only official chinatown in Korea. It’s like the most popular tourist spot in Incheon. The nearest station is Incheon Station (Seoul Subway Line 1). Chinatown is just across the station. You can easily recognize this place when you see its chinese-style gate (pailou). Chinatown has a lot of chinese restaurants, bakery, cafe, ceramics shop, souvenir shop etc. Jjajangmyeon or black bean noodles is said to be originated from this area. But because it’s not halal, i didn’t try it. There’s also jjajangmyeon museum where you can see jjajangmyeon history and how it’s made. The entrance fee is only 1000 KRW.
Because I went there on holiday, it was very crowded. I saw many restaurants with long line of queue. Fyuhh, I could never understand people who are willing to go to super long queue only for food. Hahaha.
Songwol-dong is located near Chinatown area. You should also go to this place when you visit Chinatown. And it’s actually the real reason why i visited Chinatown. Haha. I know about this spot from jay’s blog, fun incheon.
Songwol-dong is an area where you can find a lot of mural or art installation of fairy tale/cartoon characters. There are pinocchio, cinderella, snow white, alice in wonderland, aladdin, hansel & gretel, and so many more. It’s like heaven for people who like taking photo/selca (or selfie, i refuse to use that word xD). Selca bong a.k.a selfie stick a.k.a tongsis is a common sight here. There were a lot of the long double cone ice cream sellers when i went there. And of course, i tried it. It was good!
Btw, because there are people who actually live in the area, make sure you don’t disturb them.
3. Jayu Park (Freedom Park)
It’s also within Chinatown area. If you see this stairs in chinatown, jayu park is on the top of this stairs.
You can see view of downtown Incheon, sea, and port from this park. There’s a small observation tower with traditional architecture. Just like typical park in Korea, you can find exercise equipments in this park. There’s also a statue of General Mac Arthur, who led the Incheon Amphibious Landing Operation during the Korean War, facing towards the sea. If you’re lucky, you can see music performance here.
It’s around 150-m long street with mural depicting the story of Chinese’s Three Kingdoms (Sanguozhi in Chinese, Samgukji in Korean). The story is written in Korean, so I don’t really understand what’s written there.
At the end of Samgukji Mural Street, you can see this stairs. It’s a stairs that divide Japanese & Chinese concession in 1880s. If you take a look at the step leadings on the left and right side, it has different style. The left side is designed on chinese style while the right side is japanese styled. Some buldings on the right side of the stairs are also japanese styled built from wood. A statue of Confucius, donated by the City of Qingdao in China, now stands near the top of the steps, looking at the view of the port below.
Hongyemun means a gate shaped like a rainbow. This gate was built during Japanese occupation period due to a necessity of efficient traffic. You know, just like Indonesia, Korea was also occupied by Japan. Even in a longer period.
7. Former Japanese Banks
It’s part of Gwandong Modern Architecture Street. There are the 1st, 18th, and 58th Bank of Japan buildings.
The Incheon branch of 1st Bank of Japan was built on 1888. The bank eventually started to offer banking services such as deposit-taking and lending. In 1909, it became the Incheon branch of the Bank of Korea and two years later, in 1911, the Incheon branch of the Bank of Joseon. After the end of World War II, it served again as Incheon branch of Bank of Korea. The domed cathedral has an arched front porch and has symmetric facade in granite slabs. Stone parapets with round openings run below the roof eaves. Today, the building is used as Open Port Museum.
(Former) The 1st Bank of Japan, Incheon Branch
Tangible Cultural Heritage No. 7
9, Jungang-dong 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Incheon Metropolitan City
In 1890, the 18th Bank of Japan, a bank headquartered in Nagasaki, opened its first overseas branch office in Incheon to handle the expanding volume of transactions lifted by a sharp increase in trade between Japan and Korea, much of which took place through the port in Incheon. The front entrance of building flanked by stone columns surmonted by a hipped roof resting on wood trusses, covered by japanese-style roof tiles. The building is currently used as the Modern Architecture Museum of The Historic International Trade District.
(Former) The 18th Bank of Japan, Incheon Branch
Tangible Cultural Heritage No. 50
24-1, Jungang-dong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Incheon Metropolitan City
The 58th Bank of Japan, a bank headquartered in Osaka, set up its branch in Incheon in 1892 for the purpose of exchanging the old currency for the new currency issued by Incheon Minting Agency. The building is a french-style, two story red brick building rests upon a stone platform and has balconies on the second level and bay windows on the first level. Today, the building is used by the Incheon Metropolitan City Restaurant Association.
(Former) The 58th Bank of Japan, Incheon Branch
Tangible Cultural Heritage No. 19
19-1, Jungang-dong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Incheon Metropolitan City
The museums open from 09.00 to 18.00. You can buy the ticket for each museum only for 500 KRW. Or you can also buy 1700 KRW ticket that can be used for 3 museums (Jjajangmyeon Museum, Open Port Museum, Modern Architecture Museum). It’s 300 KRW cheaper than if you buy it separately.
Incheon Art Platform is a modern architectural building that has been remodeled as an art studio. A total of 13 buildings house studios, workshops, exhibition halls, and concert halls. The red bricks are very striking. If you watch korean drama Dream High, this is the place that was used as Kirin High School. When I went there, I imagined myself as Hyemi and waiting for my Samdong. lol.
Incheon Art Platform (direction guide)
10-1 Haean-dong 1-ga ,Jung-gu, Incheon, 400-021
If you go to Incheon Art Platform, you can see a tall building with strong chinese architecture nearby. It’s Korean-Chinese Cultural Center. It has 6 floor, including basement. It was founded in April 2005 by the Jung-gu District Office of Incheon City to help promote Chinatown. In order to provide the visitors to the Center with more to see and experience, the Center has been preparing a good variety of arts and cultural programs like regular weekend performances, free movie screens, Korean language learning classes and art exhibitions. You can find direction guide to this place on its website.
Korean-Chinese Cultural Center
1-2 Hang-dong 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Incheon 400-031
10. Sinpo Market
It’s a traditional market where you can find traditional food, vegetables, fish, meat, fruits, etc. The most famous dish here is dakgangjeong, a Korean dish of crispy fried chicken coated in a sweet and spicy sauce. You can find a famous dakgangjeong shop with super long queue here.
9, Uhyeon-ro 4beon-gil, Jung-gu, Incheon
11. Incheon Post Office
The eclectic-style building was built on 1924 during Japanese occupation. It’s designated as Incheon Metropolitan City Tangible Cultural Property No. 8 on 1982.
All the spots I mentioned here are within walking distance. I need half a day to visit almost all this spots (without visiting the museums). I plan to go back again and visit the museums. Chinatown area is a nice place that has rich cultural, architectural, and historical lesson.