When we got to Dongdaemun (동대문), we expected to see what we heard it was famous for- shopping centers and giant malls. Just three stops away from our university, Dongdaemun only took ten minutes to get to by subway. The weather, unlike the previous day, was certainly in our favor on that breezy, cool Wednesday.
Just like on our ride from Incheon to Seoul, Korea managed to surprise us yet again. Just five steps away from the subway we were greeted by the busy traffic and in the midst of it all- the majestic Heunginjimun (흥 인지문), one of the six of the eight existing gates that are part of the Fortress Wall of Seoul. Dongdaemun literally translates to “Great East Gate”.
The sight was absolutely breathtaking. To see something so architecturally beautiful in the hub of Seoul congestion was the perfect juxtaposition of East meets West. Just a few more steps down, we saw a sight that puts the New York City High Line to shame. Surrounded by skyscrapers and traffic lights rests the lush green oasis of Cheong Gye Cheon (청계천). A five mile recreational strip, the Cheong Gye Cheon is the ideal stroll to take during a romantic date. Fans of korean drama may recognize this place from City Hunter and true to its picturesque portrayal, couples dotted the walkway as the stream slowly trickled down a long stretch.
As Nadeia and I made our way to the Doota shopping mall, we were struck by how many foreigners were walking around. Dongdaemun was definitely a tourist district. The glass elevator of Doota Mall shot us to the 8th floor, giving us the ideal bird’s eye view of the city. That was when we noticed how mountainous Seoul actually was. The elevation and mountains in the background encircled the metropolitan oasis Dongdaedum exuding an air of nature intermixed into an urban setting.
Despite Dongdaemun’s stylish malls and attractions including the open sky roof of the Doota mall where we enjoyed a refreshing Korean dessert Patbingsoo (팥빙수) and the thousands of stores that housed the latest Korean fashion, what we truly enjoyed about Dongdaemun was the awe-inspiring scenery. Ladies, you can go shopping anytime. But only in Dongdaemun will you find beauty that even the top runways of the world can’t capture.