Wikitree has some photos of last night’s big fire in Insa-dong.
Miraculously, nobody died, but seven were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.
Also fortunate was that no major cultural landmarks were destroyed. The restaurant Yungmi—an old Jongno favorite—is no more, however.
Firefighters reportedly had difficulty accessing the fire due to the neighborhood’s narrow streets. Making matters worse, according to one report, is that the neighborhood had been slated for redevelopment, so local residents let their properties fall into poor repair. In June of last year, however, the city decided to preserve the neighborhood. Local improvement were to be entrusted to a private contractor, but no investors materialized. Local residents, thinking the place would be redeveloped one way or the other, didn’t see any reason to sink their own money into repairs.
Food porn from Sunday!
Jaha Son Mandu
Had lunch at Buam-dong’s Jaha Son Mandu, which easily ranks as one of my favorite restaurants in Seoul. As the name would suggest, the house specialty is hand-made mandu, or dumplings. Here we have beef and shiitake mushroom pyeonsu and a very colorful rendition of tteok manduguk.
My wife’s Mongolian friend and her French fiancé were visiting Korea, so we took them out to Sanchon in Insa-dong.
I hadn’t been to Sanchon in over 10 years. It was one of those places my old Lonely Planet* really loved, and for good reason. Run by a rather colorful Buddhist monk and expert on Korean temple food, Sanchon specializes, unsurprisingly, on Korean Buddhist cuisine. It goes without saying the menu (which consists of just two options, “lunch” and “dinner”) is completely vegetarian. The dinner menu consists of 16 different dishes, which you can read (in English) here.
*For the record, I actually like the Lonely Planet. A lot. It was a lifesaver in East Africa, really helpful in China and served me quite well when I first came to Korea. Sure, the Korea guide isn’t much use to me now, but given how long I’ve been here, I’d better know more than what’s in the LP.
One of the things that makes Sanchon perfect if you’re taking out guests on visit to Korea is that in the evening, it hosts performances of Korean traditional music and dance. What you see above is a performance of the Seungmu, or Monk Dance.
Sin Yetchatjip Teahouse
Insa-dong is famous for teahouses, of course. Everyone has their favorite; if I had to choose, I’d probably go with Sin Yetchatjip, which I wrote about here. It’s a cozy little place, and quite atmospheric.