Exploring Korean Neighbourhoods: Apgujeong-dong

Welcome back to another series of “Exploring Korean Neighbourhoods”! Today, we will explore one of the more bougie neighbourhoods, Apgujeong-dong. If Los Angeles has Beverly Hills, then Seoul has Apgujeong-dong. Apgujeong-dong is an area located in Gangnam-gu by the Han river. It is one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods, with one square meter of land costing approximately $28,300. Apgujeong-dong is named after a pavilion called “Apgujeong”, built by Kwon Myeong-hoe during the Joseon dynasty. The neighbourhood rose to wealth starting in the late 1970s. Back then, Korea was still amidst industrialization, and foreign brands and products were rare to see. However, Apgujeong-dong was characterized by many foreign fashion brands and cars. The people walking its streets resembled fashion icons, contributing to Apgujeong-dong being called the “Neighbourhood of Fashion”.

To this day, Apgujeong-dong is still one of the top neighbourhoods in fashion. You can find many designer brands, department stores, and independent boutiques in this area. Also, the area has many flagship stores and pop-up events, making shopping a unique experience. Another famous part of Apgujeong-dong is the Hallyu K-Star Road. This is a street filled with teddy bear-shaped statues of famous Korean celebrities. It is a classic photo zone and attracts many tourists. Many famous K-dramas were also filmed in this neighbourhood, including the popular 2001 K-drama “Beautiful Days”.

Contrastingly to its reputation for fashion, Apgujeong-dong is also known for its outstanding educational institutes. In Korea, it is common for students to attend after-school educational institutes, known as “hagwon”. Apgujeong-dong is home to some of the best, most renowned hagwons. There are many different kinds of hagwon, from ones that teach mathematics to ones that teach acting. Another thing Apgujeong-dong is famous for is its numerous dermatology and plastic surgery clinics. Many celebrities frequent these clinics for some of the best treatments in Korea. Because of the accessibility of beauty services such as lasers and fillers in this neighbourhood, their price is much lower than what one would typically pay in North America. Also, thanks to Korea’s excellent technological developments, there are a wide variety of treatments to choose from.

When visiting Apgujeong-dong, I recommend you visit Dosan Park. Dosan Park is located in the heart of the neighbourhood and has many upscale, unique cafes and restaurants. One of my favourite cafes in Seoul is in Dosan Park, called Dosan Mammamia. This cafe is terrific, and the interior makes you feel like you are in a floral wonderland. They also have excellent teas and dessert items. After indulging in some wonderful food, Dosan Park also makes the perfect place for a nice stroll to digest. Another place I highly recommend you try in Apgujeong-dong is Sungnyemun. Sungnyemun is a traditional Korean restaurant that specializes in hanjeongsik. Hanjeongsik is a traditional course meal consisting of many Korean dishes. This restaurant also has very delicious galbi, Korean marinated short ribs. Furthermore, the oriental interior allows you to experience the ambience of traditional Korean living style.

Apgujeong-dong is a stark contrast to some of the more traditional Korean neighbourhoods. However, if you want to experience some of Korea’s more upscale culture, this neighbourhood is the place to go. Although I wasn’t very fond of its crowdedness and luxury when I was younger, I have come to love this neighbourhood with time. If you do get the chance to visit, I wish you the best of times. Alas, I hope today’s post allowed you to learn more about Apgujeong-dong.

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