Since the blog is fresh, I wanted to take the time to share a little bit more about myself, my social life, etc. As I mentioned, I live and work in Gangnam near Seonjeongneung Station. I work as an after school English teacher at a nearby school in the afternoons. It’s a nice 20 minute walk to work.
Gangnam literally means “South of the River,” the River being the Han River that divides Seoul. The northern part of the river is older Seoul, where everything began. Gangnam development only really began in the 1970s (ish) as it was allllllllllllllllllll farm land then. It was developed specifically to be the new business area. Gangnam is technically Gangnam-gu (gu = District), Seocho-gu, and even Songpa-gu, so what Seoulites consider Gangnam is quite large.
Gangnam itself is about 1-1.5 hrs from Incheon Airport depending on traffic/where you’re coming from. To Myeongdong it’s about 40 minutes by bus. To Hongdae, 45 minutes by subway. Gangnam is in the Southeastern area of Seoul.
The best part? You can literally get ANYWHERE in Korea from Gangnam. Well, except Jeju. Express Bus Terminal is in Gangnam, offering buses to other cities like Busan, Gyeongju, and Daegu. The SRT high speed train also opened recently at Suseo Station, allowing us to get to the same cities by high speed train. It’s closer than KTX for us and even slightly cheaper. Gimpo Airport is only 30 minutes by Line 9 Express, but bring your patience, because Line 9 is craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy crowded.
Allllllllll the major businesses are here, so it’s teeming with office workers during the day. It’s also known as the place for THE best education in Korea, so there are many families packed into high-rise apartment complexes and small apartments surrounding the schools.
Gangnam is viewed as the “fancy, super expensive” neighborhood, which it can be, but that is not my Gangnam! I happen to think of my neighborhood as VERY normal, but better in some ways. It’s extremely clean with Nazi-like trash men, street sweepers, trash trucks, all that stuff. Not only do the trash men sort the household trash for collection, they even go as far to sweep the streets of leaves and general debris every morning!
Here are a few shots of my hood. The main streets around it are covered in offices, businesses, traffic. What you’d expect as it’s the newer part of Seoul.
When you move off the main street, you find tons of residences all around you. The giant apartment towers/family complexes are self serving with everything in one central location. Most single people live in small buildings with several one room apartments. The streets are narrow and dense with buildings and car traffic.
Somehow, despite all of this, my neighborhood is PIN DROP quiet. Like I still don’t know how it manages to be this quiet. People are all around, but you wouldn’t know it!
There are several meat restaurants, izakayas and Korean style bars in my neighborhood. I stay around my house when I want a quiet night out. Fried chicken, meat, seafood, it can all be had within a short walk.
And below are just two of my favorite Japanese places nearby. Yes, I know, it’s Korea, but Japanese bars and food are verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry popular. The first place is a nearby izakaya that nails the decor!
Below is a Japanese “fish cake” bar. This place is always so busy I couldn’t get a seat for almost two years….only ten seats in total! By cake, I mean they form fish and flour together. In Japan, they call it kamaboko. In Korea, we call it Odeng or Uh-Mook.
BUT for true nightlife, I head just one (express) subway stop away to Sinnonhyeon Station. THIS is real Gangnam nightlife. And not douchey club Gangnam. Normal Koreans, meeting friends, eating, drinking, singing the night away.
My next post will be devoted to my home away from home (and where I do most meetups and tours), Sinnonhyeon Station!