Which Chinatown Should You Explore?
If there’s one thing you’ll find in many countries it is a Chinatown. Chinatown is something that most nations around the world can say they have as part of their host country’s history. South Korea is no different. However, Korea has some bragging right since its home to two Chinatowns. The most well known Chinatown is located in Incheon.
It can be found by the water and is also close to Sinpo Market. The other one is located in Daerim-Dong which is a part of Seoul. But what makes them different and which one should you check out? Read on and you’ll find out.
Before we continue, to avoid any confusion, I’ll be referring to Incheon’s Chinatown as I.C. and Seoul’s Chinatown as D.C.
Let’s start with the Original Gangster Chinatown in Korea which is located in Incheon. Located down by the port with Wolmido Park close by, I.C. is home to many Koreans with Chinese ancestry. Established in 1884, this place is where many Chinese migrants to the Korean peninsula have made their home.
Compared to D.C., I.C has more to offer and many activities to keep someone busy. I’ve covered the area in my eBook “ The Black Traveler’s Guide to Incheon South Korea” so check that out to learn more. Getting to I.C. may take longer to reach since it’s further out than D.C. Should you want to visit, you can take the city bus or the metro on Line 1. It’ll take 1 -3 hours to get there but I can assure you the trip will be worth it.
Being in a place with so many historical sites, museums, and a lovely park at the top of a hill, I.C. will always have you running back for more. Like all of Korea, I.C. was built on mountains and hills, so bring comfortable walking shoes. While you’re here you’ve got to try the signature dish that was created in I.C. thanks to the blending of two cultures.
Noodles with a black bean sauce, also called Jajangmyeon was created here and continues to be a popular Korean-Chinese fusion dish. This dish is such an important part of the historical landscape that there’s a museum you can visit to learn its history.
Once you have had your fill of Korean-Chinese cuisine, I also recommend heading west of I.C. and explore the Sinpo shopping district. This place is a shopper’s dream if you’re looking for clothes, shoes, and jewelry. What makes this area even better is that it is home to the famous Sinpo Market. This traditional market has the best tasting fried chicken.
It is so good that you want to slap yo mama. And of course, there are plenty of traditional Korean street foods that are available to try. That’s all I have to say about the palace. Check out my book to learn more.
While I.C might be more well-known, I do have to give Daerim-Dong’s Chinatown some points over Incheon. It’s more convenient to get to since it’s located in Seoul off of Daerim Station Exit 9 on the Brown Line. Here you’ll be able to find more traditional Chinese dishes, baked goods, and more locals speaking Chinese or Korean. Unlike I.C. with its hillish walkways and the smell of the sea nearby, D.C. is in the middle of the city with a lot of tight alleyways.
You’ll have to watch your back as cars tend to drive through. As you make your way through, you will be surrounded by baked goods and a variety of street foods to chow down on while you make your way to the central market. If you’ve never had access to traditional Chinese food, then you’re in luck! Throughout the market and alleyways with these delicacies. There are plenty of options to choose from.
Regardless of which one you want to visit first, both Chinatowns have advantages over each other. I highly recommend visiting each one to decide for yourself. Be advised my fellow black travelers, should you visit Chinatown, you will get stares and people will talk. I’ve received more stares and side conversations in D.C. over I.C. Of course, it’s all out of curiosity. They don’t see people of color often. Don’t let this scare you off from going. Go get some steamed buns, enjoy a traditional Chinese dish and have fun!