INCHEON GAEHANGJANG STREET
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INCHEON

GAEHANGJANG STREET

A retro destination for the MZ generation and a place to reminisce about the past for older generations.

An Excursion into the History of 140 Years Ago

 

When we think of Incheon as a travel destination, Chinatown often comes to mind. But less well-known is a street with vivid evidence of Korea’s modern history that can be found right next to Chinatown. Traces of Korea’s modern history can be found throughout Incheon, where various new cultural influences rushed in after the opening of the port in 1883. Recently, Gaehangjang Street has seen a renewal as a destination that transcends generations: a retro destination for the MZ generation and a place to reminisce about the past for older generations.

An Open-air Museum with the Modern History of the Opening Port Period

The boundary between the past and present blurs as you enter Gaehangjang Street around Songhak-dong and Jungang-dong in Jung-gu, Incheon, with cultural historic sites from the late Joseon period to the Japanese Occupation everywhere, just like a movie set.

When the port opened, a concession or an area of extraterritorial jurisdiction where foreigners could enjoy freedom was created and modern buildings including embassies and official residences of various countries were built.

Later, many were lost during the Korean War and industrialization, but remaining buildings such as Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, Dapdong Cathedral of St. Paul, Hongyemun Gate and Chemulpo Club allow us to see the culture of those days. These buildings have been renovated into various forms, including a museum and an exhibition hall, letting us experience the culture of the time.

From the First Hotel to the Photo Zone for a Pic of the Day

Let’s start from Incheon Station and head to Gaehangjang Street. At the Cheongil Jogyeji Stairway are Japanese-style wooden buildings on the right and Qing Dynasty-style buildings on the left, a unique mix of two different styles. To the left of the stairway is Chinatown, while to the right is Gaehangjang Street.

First, let’s head to Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha and the Incheon Art Platform. The Incheon Art Platform with 13 modern buildings constructed in the 1930s and 1940s, attracts many visitors as a filming location for the TV drama Guardian: The Lonely and Great God and also a popular place to take a pic of the day.

In the Modern Architecture Museum (former Incheon branch of Japanese Bank No. 18), models of modern buildings are displayed, providing a glimpse of what Incheon was like when the port first opened. The former Incheon branch of Japanese Bank No. 1 next to the Life History Museum has become Incheon Open Port Museum and Korea’s first hotel, is now an exhibition hall.

Open the Doors and Step Back in Time

 

The Incheon Jung-gu Office is housed in the former Japanese consulate building within the concession. It has gone through several remodeling, but still retains its 1930s’ modernism architecture style. Many nearby wooden buildings, including Nagaya, a Japanese-style wooden rowhouse, and an ice storehouse, are now used as cafés and exhibition spaces.

Chemulpo Club near Jayu Park, the first western-style park in Korea, has also transformed from serving as a social club for foreigners to being a venue for cultural exhibitions and experiences. Take a leisurely stroll past the Hongyemun Gate and then Dapdong Cathedral of St. Paul, Jungdong Post Office, and Jung-gu Office and take a look at the former Incheon branch of Japanese Bank No. 58. On Gaehangjang Street, just opening the door of a building with its own history will take you back in time.

Address│80 Sinpo-ro 27beon-gil, Jung-gu, Incheon

Way to go│10-minute walk from Exit 1 of Incheon Station, Seoul Subway Line 1, or Suin-Bundang Line

NEARBY TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

 

 

Chinatown

 

 

 

Songwol-dong Donghwa (Fairy Tale) Village

 

 

 

Wolmi-do

 

 

pot_R

 

This desert café is housed in a Japanese-style house built during the Open Port era that was restored to preserve most of its original appearance. It is famous for shaved ice with red beans and Nagasaki castella cake.

Ssarijae

 

This retro café filled with music and aromas of coffee sits in a building constructed in 1930. It serves moka pot espresso made with freshly ground beans. Ssarijae also hosts various cultural and artistic activities and lectures.

Mekong Sarong

 

This is a Vietnamese restaurant featuring stylish interior and aquamarine tables to create an exotic atmosphere. It is known for serving authentic Vietnamese cuisine.

Taehwawon

 

Located next to Gaehangjang Street, Chinatown is best known as the birthplace of Korea’s jjajangmyeon (noodles in black bean sauce). A descendant of the chef at Gonghwachun, the first restaurant to introduce jjajangmyeon, continues the three-generation family tradition at Taehwawon.

itta SPACE

 

This building was initially constructed to serve as a salt warehouse in the 1920s. It was later repurposed into a Japanese-style sauna in the 1940s, then a bookstore called “Munjosa,” and finally into today’s gallery, itta SPACE. Even the paulownia tree climbing the wall is art.

Light House

 

This is the showroom + gallery café of Ilkwang Lightings, an incandescent light bulb manufacturer. The 1st floor showcases bulb manufacturing machines, and spaces are adorned with intriguing lighting fixtures. Their freshly baked desserts are as captivating as the their showroom.

TIP

One Ticket for All
Five-in-one integrated tickets that grant admission to the Daebul Hotel Exhibition Hall, the Korean-Chinese Cultural Center, the Incheon Open Port Modern Architecture Exhibition Hall, the Incheon Open Port Museum, and the Jajangmyeon Museum can be purchased at the Daebul Hotel Exhibition Hall. The Incheon Open Port Culture Night held around September or October is also very popular.

©Korea Tourism Organization

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