Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 9 Part 2 - Cheonggyecheon Stream, King Sejong Story, Samgyeupsal, Coffee Prince Cafe

October 30, 2009 (Friday) Part II

I found the "Cheonggyecheon" in the Seoul Top 100 and I kept on telling Emily that we had to go. There really wasn’t much to see in daylight except this cone called The Spring.


Emily suggested that we go back when it gets dark (the lights and sounds come out).


I would have loved to see the Cheonggyecheon Berlin Wall though, wherever it was in the long stretch of the rehabilitated stream. It was a symbolism of a sincere wish for peace and reunification between North and South Korea. Emily said that there was a prevailing desire for majority of South Koreans to end the war and separation with the North (every time they get close to that, she said a certain country intercedes and blurs things up again). That particular day in recent Korean history occurred when a group from the South crossed the border and met their now white-haired relatives. They were allowed to spend 3 days with their long-lost and estranged brothers and sisters from the North for the first time after 60 years. Read more about the 2009 event here and the 2010 event here. Apparently, reunions like these started earlier than I thought (even before 2009).


On one side above the banks of the stream, we took our time posing at a giant O and an Elvis coffee shop we passed by. 


We visited a Tourist Information Center in the area that offers free books, magazines and other tourist information in English. For more info on TICs, click here. Here’s a list of local TICs per area in Korea. If you need any other tourist information, just remember to dial “1330”.

We were off to a Dongwha Duty Free shop to buy a vanity kit I saw near City Hall. It is open 365 days a year from 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. There are a lot of Duty Free shops scattered around Seoul and Korea (list of Duty Free Stores in Korea). Speaking from my Dongwha experience: Aside from cheaper prices, all you have to do is to show them your passport, pay for the items in the store and pick-up the items in the airport on the day of your flight (see my last day Korea post).


I was in for another surprise. We came across a hidden underground museum in our journey to search for something else to do near Cheonggyecheon. At first, it was just the model-scale battle turtle ships and a photo with Navy Commander Admiral Yi Sun-Shin, the ingenious inventor of this early Korean watercraft and warship. 


It turned out that this fountain was the starting mark for another long walk in Korean history. We were at Gwanghwamun Square.


There was a little stopover at a small flower exhibition happening in the square. 

flower exhibit


My first King Sejong introduction involved the Korean alphabet or Hangul, one of the most brilliant inventions during his rule. 


The old Korean language had Chinese origins but these characters took too long to learn. King Sejong wanted to create an easier system to promote literacy among his people. Ever wondered why the current Korean characters almost looks the same? Each symbol corresponds to a sound like the letters of the alphabet and one word is read like a from upper left to upper right to downward right to downward left like a square. Korea had its own language in no time.

Unfortunately, as I see it, a consequence for this type of phonetic language makes Hangul easy to read but difficult to understand unless you memorize word combinations. Some words may be familiar phonetic translations derived from English words (loanwords) like fighting (화이팅).

underground museum

The underground exhibition hall King Sejong Story is open from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (free entrance, closed every Monday). 


Other achievements during his ruling period are also featured.



We went up from this side of the Sejong Center for the Performance Arts. I believe it's the largest cultural center in Seoul.


It was dark and it was time to head to the Cheonggyecheon Stream. It was a very expensive restoration and very extensive rehabilitation project. 

cheongyecheon at night

This stream used to be a contaminated body of water with makeshift houses beside it during the Japanese colonial era. The houses were demolished in the 1970s and the stream was covered in concrete. The stream became an elevated highway (5.6 kilometers long and 16 meters wide, previously 16 lanes). In 2003, the highway was destroyed despite protests of more traffic and the old stream was revived for tourists and Koreans by 2005. Ironically, traffic improved and the people enjoyed the more relaxing and walking lifestyle. Imagine just sitting here or walking the whole 5-6 kilometers.


The man who spearheaded this project became the President of South Korea in 2007 and Cheonggyecheon’s success will always be associated with him because of his vision for history and aesthetics in the heart of Seoul. Learn more about the Cheonggyecheon here.

This was actually one of my favorite spots with the laser show. Music was also playing in the background. There were different sights and sounds per part of the stream.


Click here for a 360 Degree view of some parts of Cheonggyecheon. We couldn’t walk the whole 6 kilometers so we headed to our next destination – dinner!

Dinner was a whole dose of samgyeupsal in Hongik’s grill street! I had enough battery left to take a picture of this unusual special glass for cooking slabs of pork belly and kimchi! It tilts to let the oil drip down and it grills a perfect Samgyeupsal! 


Emily also taught me how to cook the pork belly perfectly as it should be – Korean style. It turns out that you don’t cut it yet, cook a whole slab on one side first. 


The trick is not to touch or move it and you can only turn once so you would have to wait until the first side is nice and brown. You cut once the other side is finished and you eat the ones that are still bubbling with heat. It tasted so good with the miso soup and the veggies. 


We didn’t even need the usual sesame oil with bamboo salt sauce they always have here in Manila. I swore on that day that I would take her word for cooking the perfect samgyeupsal.

The film location of the popular Coffee Prince Korean series was also nearby. The place was well preserved and was actually operating as a real coffee shop. I remember the sunflowers they painted on the wall. Learn more about the shop here.

Read more about Seoul in Korea (you can find Busan in the labels):
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 1 - On The Way to Seoul, Incheon & Songdo City
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 2 - Nami Island & Mt. Seorak Near Seoul
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 3 - Mt. Seorak & Everland Near Seoul, Dongdaemun Market in Seoul
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 4 - Seoul City Tour - Kimchi-making, Hanbok-wearing, National Folk Museum, Cheongbuk Palace, Myeongdong, Drawing Show at Hyehwa, Banpo Bridge
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 5 - Lotte World (tour ends here), Seoul Tower (start of our extra day), Teddy Bear Museum, Myeongdong in Seoul
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 6 - Hyehwa, Gangnam, Insadong in Seoul
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 7 - Sinchon, Korean Universities in Seoul
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 8 - Namsangol Hanok Village, Namsan Stairs, Nanta in Seoul
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 9 Part 1 - Deoksugung Palace, Doldam-Gil, Tteokbokki Street in Seoul
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 9 Part 2 - Cheonggyecheon Stream, King Sejong Story, Samgyeupsal, Coffee Prince Cafe
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 10 Part 1 - Making Kimchi in a Korean Home, Korean Hospitality at its Best, Korean Grapes & Persimmon, Kimchi All-You-Can, The Peppero Story at the Supermarket, Ramen Eaten 3-Ways, Pojongmacha
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 10 Part 2 - My Best Foodie Experience in Seoul!
Unforgettable Seoul '10 Day 11 - Bossam Day, Incheon International Airport Activities