OWL Magazine Korea

Seoul Bukchon Hanok Village’s ‘Gye-dong Street’

Gye-dong Street is a small street located within the Bukchon Hanok Village. Situated in Jongno-gu, Seoul, the street takes its name from the administrative district of Gye-dong. It stretches from Yulgok-ro to the main gate of Jungang High School.

Originally, this area used to be a waterway leading to Cheonggyecheon, but it disappeared when the Bukchon Hanok Village was established between Changdeokgung Palace and Gyeongbokgung Palace after the founding of the Joseon Dynasty.

“Traces of Time in Gye-dong Street”

When people think of Bukchon Village, they naturally envision the cluster of traditional Korean houses in Bukchon Hanok Village. However, Gye-dong Street within Bukchon Village is quite distinct from this hanok scenery.

Nonetheless, it offers its own unique atmosphere. It exudes a modern and contemporary ambiance, evoking a sense of the 70s and 80s.

Though now faded into history, this alley was once home to “Jungangtang,” the first public bathhouse in Korea.

“Korea’s First Public Bathhouse, Jungangtang, Gentle Monster Showroom, and Bukchon Space”

Jungangtang, once a public bathhouse on Gye-dong Street, couldn’t withstand the changes of time and eventually closed its doors. Originally used as the bathhouse for the sports teams of Jungang High School until 1968, it became a commercial bathhouse from 1969 onwards.

In 2014, upon hearing that Jungangtang would be closing, Gentle Monster decided to transform the historic site into a showroom, preserving the exterior and parts of the original structure.

Subsequently, Jungangtang on Gye-dong Street was transformed into “Bukchon Space.” It is currently being utilized as an exhibition and cafe space, showcasing Fujihiro Saji’s artwork.

“The Beginning of Gye-dong Street: Dr. Choi Ik-soon’s Pediatric Clinic”

The starting point of Gye-dong Street was Dr. Choi Ik-soon’s pediatric clinic. The signboard reading “Choi Pediatric Clinic” with an inviting atmosphere marked the official entry into Gye-dong Street. However, now it’s a trace of the past. Dr. Choi Ik-soon took care of children who grew up in Gye-dong from 1963 to 2017. In 2018, Dr. Choi Ik-soon passed away.

The space where Choi Pediatric Clinic once stood has now transformed into a cafe and wine bar called ‘I-Ik’

“The Vanished ‘Golden Egg Restaurant'”

Across from Jungangtang, a symbol of Gye-dong Street, there was the ‘Golden Egg Restaurant,’ exuding a warm and nostalgic atmosphere. It was a place where you could experience the feeling of your childhood. Thanks to this atmosphere, it served as a filming location for dramas like “Coffee Prince 1st Shop” and “Shining Inheritance.”

It was a place well-loved, even featured multiple times in various magazines, but now it has become a vanished place of memories.

“At the End of Gye-dong Street: Jungang High School”

At the end of Gye-dong Street stands Jungang High School, renowned as one of the top high schools in North Seoul. During the Japanese colonial period, it was the site where the March 1st Movement was planned and initiated.

With a history of over 100 years, the founder of the school is Kim Seong-su, who also established Korea University. Thanks to this, you can find a statue of “Kim Seong-su” at the high school.

However, there is an ironic aspect. In the school, which served as the starting point of the March 1st Movement, a statue of Kim Seong-su, who collaborated with the Japanese, coexists.

“The Filming Location of the Drama ‘Winter Sonata'”

Jungang High School is also an original Hallyu landmark. The drama “Winter Sonata,” in which Bae Yong-joon starred, was exported to Japan and gained immense popularity, earning Bae Yong-joon the nickname “Yonsama.”

As a result, until before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was famous for being a popular destination for tourists from Japan. In front of Jungang High School, you can see a small stationery shop selling souvenirs related to Bae Yong-joon, such as Hallyu star bromides.

“Preserving Old Memories in Seoul’s Gye-dong Street”

  • Starting Point: Hyundai Gye-dong Building, Unni-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
  • Ending Point: Jungang High School, Gye-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul