Myeongdong Street may be the epitome of downtown Seoul now, but during the Joseon Dynasty it was a residential neighborhood. Having become a business district since the Japanese Colonial Period, it is now the center of shopping where culture and art and all kinds of brands are concentrated, and there are things to see and things to eat galore making it one of Korea’s most prominent tourist attractions.
Stepping out of Myeongdong Station, you will immediately be overtaken by the bustling crowd. You may worry for a moment there might not be enough room to even step as there are just too many people about, but soon enough you too are swept up in the crowd and carried away by the activity.
Myeongdong is, above all things, a shopping heaven. Along a street about 1km long are a cluster of various large shopping centers including Noon Square, Lotte Department Store, Shinsegae Department Store, and famous store brands from both Korea and abroad, attracting both fashion-savvy youngsters and middle-aged shoppers alike. Foreign tourists need not to fear, either. The merchants on Myeongdong Street not only speak English, but Chinese and Japanese as well. Hence you will hear the sound of various foreign languages flowing ceaselessly from cosmetic stores and clothing shops.
With the influence of “K-beauty fever,” Myeongdong Street is packed with various cosmetic road shops. It offers a variety of language services, and it has established itself as a globally-acknowledged Mecca of cosmetic shopping—so much so that now, more and more tourists are coming to Korea simply to shop for cosmetics.
If all the shopping causes you to work up an appetite, head to Myeongdong Street. There is nothing that the street vendors lined up and down Myeongdong’s main street do not serve. There is everything from Korean beef steak to tteokbokki (spicy rice cake), roasted clams and tropical fruit, foods of a variety and fanciness that surpass the imagination—and their smells—all tempt us. All the food is reminiscent of a buffet, filling the streets and clutching at the feet of tourists. But that does not mean there are only new foods available in Myeongdong.
In every alley there are also local restaurants that have existed for long periods of time, taking pride in the unchanging tastes of their dishes passed down from generation to generation. Myeongdong Gyoja and Hadonggwan are some of the decades-old restaurants that add depth to the tastes of Myeongdong Street.
The streets are filled with foreigners because of the Hallyu (Korean Wave) so it might feel like there are more foreign tourists here than Koreans. Here and there posters of famous celebrities hang from buildings, and tourists frequently pause in their steps to take pictures of them. Products with the faces of celebrities printed to them sell like
You can also enjoy the styles and tastes of Korea at the K-Style Hub and Seoul Global Cultural Center, as well as take part in various experiences related to major celebrities who major figures in Hallyu; the ranges to which you can enjoy Myeongdong are endless. The hanbok experience is especially popular among tourists. Myeongdong is a place where not only shopping but also Korean traditional culture can be enjoyed; so it has become Korea’s number one tourist attraction sought by people from around the world.
If you get tired of mingling with too many people, it is also nice to take a look around Myeongdong Cathedral or Myeongdong Theater. You can see excellent plays at Myeongdong Theater, and the quietude you will find at Myeongdong Cathedral will especially bring you peace of mind.
Not only is Myeongdong Street one of the most prominent downtown areas of Seoul City, its name is being used as a pronoun of downtowns; in provinces like Chuncheon and Hongseong, streets where business are most concentrated often add the name “Myeongdong Street” to their street names.
In the past it attracted people with its romance, now with its shopping and tourism. As Korea’s representative downtown street, Myeongdong’s reputation is still valid.