Dapsimni Antique Town
Antiques big and small everywhere is what you’ll see around Dapsimni Station. Having lived here for around 6 years now and realizing I won’t be leaving any time soon I’ve decided I want my house to feel more like a home and less like an interim abode in a far off land. Because of this idea the first thing that came to mind was buying something with a story, something I’d have here that I’d want to take back with me as well. Currently, my furniture, though nice and taken care of, is what you generally find in houses here for teachers, cheap. I’ve picked out things that I liked the style of, but didn’t put a dent in my pocket as I’d always assumed I’d leave soon and I wouldn’t want to worry about what to do with expensive furniture in my house. I’m fine with the furniture that I’ve chosen, it’s chic, it’s me, and it holds all of my goods. I won’t take it back with me and that is fine, but I figure I can start buying things that I will want to take back with me and to start I’ll go for decorative elements that are more akin to a newly married woman and less like a single recently graduated college student, which I am not and have not been for some years now I guess.
When I googled antiques in Korea the three popular areas to look were Insa-dong, Itaewon and Dampsimni. I’ve been to Insa-dong many times and there are a lot of antiques there to be sure, but they also cost an arm and a leg. Itaewon is another destination I’ve been to numerous times in my 6 years here and as of yet hadn’t noticed a lot of antiques, but plenty of knock-offs, and so I headed to Dapsimni to see what it had to offer.
There are three main buildings to be found here with antiques inside and sitting outside, not that they could be taken that easily as they are mostly huge stone statues out there, but they’ll allow visitors to spot the right place easily. Out of Dapsimni Station exit 1 if you turn and walk a block in away from the main street you’ll find Dapsimni Antique 2-dong town building, 5-dong building, and 6-dong building (답십리고미술상가). They all appeared quiet and lacking customers during our stroll and I gathered from the way the shop keepers said hi but paid little more attention than that the days here are mostly quiet and they don’t mind it. My friend and I stuck our heads in the shops and had our looks around, also enjoying the antiques left stacked to the ceiling in the halls.
One building had more ceramic goods and the other had more trunks and wooden goods, but in general all three of the buildings were similar. Prices were anything from the W15,000 I spent on some old glass balls used to hold up fishing nets to millions of won for some very old trunks. I’d have to say that nothing here looks nearly as pretty and clean as that in Insa-dong, but I think that if you took anything home from Dapsimni and cleaned it yourself you’d end up with the same thing for cheaper. I’m hoping to go back and buy a nice set of old table setting dishes and utensils for a proper Korean Seollal table setting of our own. After taking part in the traditional ceremony at my new in-laws home recently I think that will certainly be something necessary for our home eventually and an old set is perfect.
The shopkeepers were all older and not pushy like a lot of shopkeepers can be here in Korea when shopping. They were very open to talking and explaining what things were for and about where and when everything came from. Even if you can’t afford to buy a Korean antique the shop keepers would add to any cultural experience here.
동대문구 답십리동 530
530 Dapsimni-dong Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul, Korea
Bus: 121, 130, 145, 262, 303, 370, 420, 463, 720, 721, 1218, 1227, 2015, 2112, 2221, 2233, 3216, 3220
Subway: Dapsimni Station, exit 1 or 2 and walk a block in.