12.Johnson Stew


Itaewon, Yongsan is a great place to experience a mixture of many different cultures. During the Imjin War (1592-1598) and the colonial period (1910-1945), Japanese troops were stationed in Yongsan. Following the Korean War (1950-1953), the area became a U.S. military compound.

An unusual fusion food became famous upon U.S. President Linden Johnson’s visit to Seoul, and thus came to be called Johnson Stew. It is similar to budae jjigae (Sausage Stew), which is a thick spicy Korean soup similar to a western stew. Right after the Korean War, Koreans did not have enough to eat. They managed to cook some food with the foodstuffs provided by the Americans as aid. The two dishes were created as a result. Now, most Koreans have enough to eat, but they still order these dishes at restaurants, perhaps out of a longing for the past. Although Johnson stew cannot be said to be a representative dish Seoul, Seoulites are likely to carry on loving it regardless.

11.Dae-O Bookstore


An elderly lady named Gwon O-nam (83) has run the Dae-O second-hand bookstore since 1951. The name Dae-O is derived from her husband’s name (“Dae”) and her own name (“O”). The bookstore is located in a back alley to the west of Gyeongbokgung Palace. The old signboard, the old-fashioned sliding door, and the cramped space make visitors feel as if they are back in the 1950s. Ms. Gwon says that the store enabled her to send all of her six children to college. But now things have changed a lot. Running a second-hand book store in this section of town is not very profitable.

In addition to the bookstore, there are several other places in this part of town that still retain traces of fifty or sixty years ago, such as Assi Gojeon Euisangsil (a traditional costume store), Hyojadong Ibalso (a barber’s), and Yeonghwaru (a Chinese restaurant).

10.Seoul Cathedral Anglican Church, a Structure of Exemplary Generosity and Harmony


Bishop Mark N. Trollope, the third bishop of Seoul Anglican Cathedral, led the campaign to raise funds for the construction of the cathedral. Designed by British architect Arthur Dixon, the new cathedral was begun in 1922. Cathedral Anglican Church settled for something less than what was originally designed, i.e. the shape of a Latin Cross, due to a shortage of funds among other reasons. Some seventy years later, in 1991, Cathedral Anglican Church decided to make additions to the cathedral in accordance with the original design on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of its foundation.

At request, a Korean architect based in the United Kingdom found Arthur Dixon’s original plans in Liverpool in 1993. The new work was completed in 1996.

9.House of Hong Nanpa


Hong Nanpa was the country’s first violinist. He founded and served as the conductor of the Gyeongseong Broadcast Station Orchestra in 1936. He composed many classical songs, such as Gohyangeuibom (Spring in My Hometown) and Bongseonhwa (Touch-me-not), which are deeply loved by many Koreans, and numerous pieces of violin and orchestral music, in addition to compiling A Collection of One Hundred Children’s Songs.

He also founded the Yeonakhoe, an institution dedicated to professional music research. After studying in Japan and the United States, he taught at Gyeongseong Boyuk School and Ewha Womans University. Hong Nanpa’s House in 38 Songwol 1-gil, Jongno-gu, where he spent the last six years of his life (1935~1941), was registered as Cultural Heritage No. 90 in 2004. He composed many of his most well-known works there.

8.Jungmyeongjeon Hall


These days, there is an atmosphere of calm and peace in Deoksugung Palace and nearby Jeongdong Street. A century ago, however, the area was an arena of power rivalry.

Jungmyeongjeon Hall in Deoksugung Palace is a red-brick, arch-style, two-story building designed by a Russian architect named Afanasy Ivanovich Seredin-Sabatin. Its name was changed from Suokheon to Jungmyeongjeon, as Emperor Gojong stayed there after a fire broke out in Deoksugung Palace in 1904. After the death of King Gojong, the building was separated from Deoksugung Palace and used as a social club for foreigners. Later, the building was presented to King Yeongchin, a son of Emperor Gojong and Court Lady Eom. In 2010, it was restored to its original status (Historic Site No. 124) as part of Deoksugung Palace after two years of work.

7.Seoul Station


A large number of people have been using Seoul Station.

The station was started at a small wooden building, which was located in Yeomchongyo Bridge area, in July, 1900, when Gyeongin Railroad was openend. It is called as Namdaemun Station at first.

During the colonial period, Japanese colonists attempted to change the landscape of Korea in all manner of ways. The construction of Seoul Station, which was called little Tokyo Station, was part of this scheme.

The building was completed in September 1925 after 33 months of work, and named Gyeongseong Station. It became the talk of the town due to its unique, grandiose appearance and domed roof.

The restoration of the former Seoul Station was started in July 2009, to creat the cultural space and recover the value as the National Cultural Heritage. In August 2011, the station was reopened to the public under the name Culture Station Seoul 284 after two years of restoration work.

6.Chung Geong Gak, A Landmark of The Country’s Door-Opening Period


Chung Ceong Gak, a restaurant-cum-art gallery, is a western-style, ivy-covered, red-brick building that is known to have been built in the 1910s. The tall tree standing in the courtyard, the porch stairs, the part of the Chung Geong Gak with an octagonal roof, stone fireplace, and the attic are all typical features of an old western-style house. Some people say that this is a European-style building built by a German architect, while others say that it is a bungalow-style house of the type in vogue in California, and that it was inhabited by an electrician named McClellan.

5.Gyeonggyojang, The Last Office of the Korean Provisional Government


Gyeonggyojang was restored to its original state in March 2013 after three years’ work. The Korean Provisional Government used Gyeonggyojang as its office after the national leaders returned home from China in November 1945. Kim Koo, a national leader, was assassinated in his office in the building in June 1949. Originally, a Japanese construction firm built the two-story house as a private house of Choi Chang-hak, a pro-Japanese Korean billionaire during the colonial period. At first, Gyeonggyojang was named Jukcheomjang, a Japanese-style name.

The national leaders also ate and slept in the building. The provisional government held a total of eight State Council meetings in Gyeonggyojang. The national leaders discussed how to carry out the movement against the UN’s plan for trusteeship in Gyeonggyojang. The place is a historic site in such regard.

4.Jejungwon, the First Western Hospital in the Country


Jejungwon was the first western hospital ever established in the country. Horace Allen was serving as a medical doctor at the U.S. Legation in Seoul at the time of the Gapsin Incident (a failed 3-day coup in 1884). He successfully treated Min Yeong-ik, a nephew of Empress Myeongseong, who was seriously injured, and more than 100 Chinese troops who were wounded in the clash with Japanese troops during the coup.  Recognizing his skill as a doctor, people close to the king strongly recommended him as the royal family doctor. At his recommendation, King Gojong opened Gwanghyewon (widespread relief house), the country’s first modern medical institution, using the house of Hong Yeong-sik, who was executed after the failed coup. Later, the hospital’s name was changed to Jejungwon.

3.The Bank of Korea


The Bank of Korea was built as the country’s central bank in 1912 based on a design by Tatsuno Kingo, an authority on modern architecture. Following the establishment of the South Korean government in 1948, the government viewed the establishment of a modern financial system, along with a central bank, as a priority. In June 1950, the Bank of Korea was launched under the Bank of Korea Act promulgated one month earlier.

During the Korean War, gold and silver bars kept by the bank were relocated to a naval base in Jinhae, but a considerable quantity of them was stolen along with many bank notes.

Now, the bank is the institution responsible for mobilizing and distributing the funds required for the country’s economic growth and regulating the total amount of money in circulation.

The building has witnessed the history of the country’s modern financial system and has been a leading symbol of the country’s modern architecture over the past century. The Currency & Finance Museum is located within its precincts.

2.Meiji-za Theater


The Meiji-za Theater (present-day Myeongdong Theater) was designed by a Japanese architect named Tamada. The work was started in 1935, the same year as the Gukdo Theater, and completed in October 1936.

During the colonial period, it was used chiefly as an entertainment facility for the Japanese. It showed films produced by Shochiku. After the country’s liberation, its name was changed various times in succession, including Gukje Theater, Municipal Auditorium for City, National Myeongdong Theater, Myeongdong Art Hall, Daehan Investment Trust Management, and Myeongdong Theater (2006).


1. Dilkusha (1923)

Dilkusha is the name of a house in Jongno-gu where Albert Taylor, an American correspondent, used to live with his family. He announced the news of the March 1919 Korean Independence Movement worldwide. He had the house built in 1932 and lived there until 1942, when he was forced to leave the country by Japanese colonists. Dilkusha is a Hindi word meaning “utopia” or a “happy mind.”

Albert Taylor, who was a UPI reporter, was put in Seodaemun Prison in Seoul for 6 months on the charge of providing assistance to Korean independence activists. He continued to help Koreans who were engaged in the independence movement. With the outbreak of the Pacific War in 1941, he and his family were put under house arrest. Japanese colonists forced him and his family to leave the country in 1942. He passed away in his home country.

In 2006, his son Bruce came to visit where his family used to live in Seoul and the story about his father and the house came to be known to people