HISTORY OF IKSEON-DONG
During the Japanese occupation in 1914, the name "Iksun" means "something better". Jeong Saekwon was an independence fighter and architect that brought up Ikseon-dong to be a korean commoners residental area. He was also the same architect who developed hanok houses in Gahoe-dong (a small residence area next to Changyeonggung Palace) During the 1920s, Ikseon-dong was a vibrant residental area with locals opening small ventures such as laundry shops, hanbok shops, and restaurants. With Seoul's rising landmarks throughout the years, Ikseon-dong was slowly forgotten. During the 2000s, the neighbourhood lost it's light and was about to be demolished but many stood up to fought to preserve this historic area. There was when Iksun-Dada came up.
WHO IS IKSUNDADA ?
Iksun-dada is a group of young creatives, lead by Park Jihyun and Park Han-A. They saw an opportunity in Ikseon-dong when they were exploring in Jongno and was aware of Ikseon-dong's situation. With the cooperation with the residents, they pitched to open up a few shops to preserve this historical neighbourhood. Started with only 1 cafe/bar and 1 restaurant in 2015, it has now 4 restaurants and 3 cafes and more to come. Iksun-dada was the first to open Ikseon-dong doors to business opportunities and slowly, other entrepeneurs joined forces.
IMPORTANCE OF HANOK PRESERVATION TO IKSUNDADA
Grand Palaces, Buddhist Temples and Confucian Shrines are very common around town. But traditional Korean homes, known as hanok, are disappearing in cities’ redevelopment. Many hanok residental areas that were not heard of, were torn down and rebuilt as completely new houses. Iksun-dada sees that there's no need to be reconstruct an entire new house but to repair and restore. Futheremore, destroying the whole building does not preserve any structure of historic value.
ARTEE'S FAVOURITES :
TOP PLACES IN IKSEONDONG :
열두달 (12 Months)
A restaurant that comprise a few selections of menus operated by different brands and a mini marketplace for local food entrepreneors to sell their goods, 열두달 definitely differs from normal restaurants. Operated by Iksun-dada, the restaurant was one of the first project done by them. Due to the different seasons we have in Korea, the restaurant constantly changes it's menu based on the season's time and the usage of fresh ingredients. Thus, don't be surprise if you're queeing to get it, the whole idea of 12 Months is to keep you coming back for more.
Address : 166-54 Iksun-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul | Phone number : +8270-4449-8225 | Opening Hours : 12:00 - 22:00 Breaktime : 15:00 - 17:00
Inspired by Ikseon-dong establishment date, 1920 was opened by Iksun-dada too. The interior of the 1920 is rather different from other restaurants. Its classic, simple and almost bourgeois design is sugar-coated in a pastel Ladurée-esque pink (even the chairs) With it's limited seating and a private room situated on the rooftop, 1920 might be the most romantic restaurant in Ikseondong. Both lunch and dinner time are mostly packed so make sure you secure a seating for you and your loved one.
Address : 166-71 Iksun-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul | Phone number : +8202-744-1920 | Opening Hours : 12:00 - 22:00 Breaktime : 15:00 - 17:00
에일당 (Yeh-il Dang)
If you're craving for coffee and beer, we would recommend 에일당 (Yeh-il Dang) A quaint cafe and bar located opposite Uncle Video Town offers a good cup of coffee and craft beers. The vibes are casual and relaxed, with a mix of vintage modern hanok interior. Psst! The best seats are around the courtyard and sometimes you'll catch a glimpse of cats playing on the rooftoop!
Address : 166-34 Iksun-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul | Phone Number : +8270-7766-3133
What's coming next in Ikseon-dong?
There's still many opportunities for business ventures in Ikseon-dong. and it's growing fast. A Manga Cafe and a Lounge will be expected in the next couple of months. A newly opened boutique hotel called Nakwonjang was recently restored. Given it's easy access from Jongno3-ga Station, Ikseon-dong is truly blooming, becoming what it was during the 1920's. Many afraid that the place will become commercialized and soon, forgetting Ikseon-dong is a preserved heritage site. Therefore, the residents of Ikseon-dong is trying to prevent franchise restaurants and stalls to be opened in the vicinity, keeping it an ultimate hipster place in Seoul.