Destinations

Donuimun Village: A Look Into the Retro Seoul (Part I)

If you want to take a deep look into the retro Seoul, the Donuimun Museum Village (돈의문박물관마을) is a place that must be in your bucket list.

Since in this area, they give visitors the chance to experience Korea’s traditional culture through their facilities. Which keep the design of the 60s and 80s. To surely give bring back to life those nostalgic and emotional moments from the past. And indeed make us realize how things have changed over the time.

This place undoubtedly has become a place where parents can guide their children through history in a fun way. And of course, for those who are deeply interested in Seoul’s history.

Without further ado, let’s take a deep look to it!

Origin

The beginning of this village

Donuimun is also known as Seodaemun (서대문). Which in fact means the big west gate of Hanyang. And it was built in 1396, but closed in 1413. Due to its damage. However, it was once again constructed at the current Jeongdong intersection in 1422.

© 돈의문박물관마을

Since then, it has the nickname of Saemunan Village, meaning ‘village in the new gate’. And in 1915, the Japanese demolished Donuimun Gate. As part of their urban planning. Because of this, Donuimun Gate remained as the only gate that was known only by stories passed from mouth to mouth. Of course, among the four gates in Seoul.

A place to learn! And… Eat?

From the 1960s to the 70s, private tutoring rooms were in fact prevalent at this village. Above all there were prestigious schools such as Seoul High School, Gyeonggi High School, Gyeonggi Middle School, and Gyeonggi Girls’ High School. So as many famous cram schools in Gwanghwamun and Jongno 2-ga, which were places for private education.

After the 1970s, high-rise buildings were consequently constructed in this area. Which in fact brought a boom in restaurants. That for instance, were targeting the office workers.

And from the early 1990s, the houses of the residents that left the neighborhood, were renovated. As a result, operated as restaurants.

The original plan

The original plan was in effect to make it a park after demolition. But in recognition of its historical value, they decided to make this village reborn as a museum.

As a result, the buildings were remodeled while preserving the original form as best as possible. This way, people can experience nostalgia. Through the modern historic architecture, of course. That makes you indeed realize how things have changed.

Map

As you can see, this place is pretty big! Because of this, I recommend you to come since morning. As you might need the whole day to visit each of the facilities.

My biggest regret was for sure arriving late. Because I was unable to enter some areas. Even though I was there since 12 P.M.

In addition, you need to take in consideration that some places close at 5 ~ 6 P.M.

Donuimun Village’s Romantic festival

We can in fact see the eager of this place to become known through their festivals. As it seems that they hold events very often.

The day I went, there was a big festival as well. Which I must say, I was not aware of it. It was just a coincidence that I got to experience it.

This festival was called ‘Donuimun Village’s Romantic festival’. And it was done in commemoration of the new leader of the village’s club. With the performance of some artists that were loved back then! Even the MCs were beloved people for the community.

At first I thought the event was completely online due to COVID, as they were just screening the artists. But then, I realized that they were actually performing at the club. Which is located next to this yard. However, only certain people could enter to see the show live.

Stamp Tour

The concert was in fact not the sole way they celebrated this day. But also with a treasure hunt!

To participate, you had to get this flyer. And then, go to each of the locations that are written to get a stamp. Once you completed them, you could have gone to Myeongin Gallery in order to get your prizes.

The prizes were according to the number of stamps you got. For example, if you only have one, you could only get one candy. If you got two, you would get two prizes. And so on.

You could also get a stamp by completing the tasks that were left around the village. Such as traditional Korean games. A really fun way to gain points for those prizes, for sure!

COVID Prevention Method

Nowadays, due to COVID, the only way to visit each one of the facilities is by going to the information center first. Where you of course will have to write down your information. Otherwise, you must use the QR code that you can get from KakaoTalk. In order to register.

After that, they will give you a bracelet. Which you will have to show in each of the buildings before entering.

It is important to mention that this is free. There is in fact no fee to get it.

Walkthrough

Now get ready to travel back in time! Because in each of these attractions, you will feel like if you were in the old times. Then, it is time to take a look into the Retro Seoul at Donuimun Museum Village!

In the next list, we have arranged all the available attractions for you! As a result, you just need to make click to the one you want to know more about. In order to take a look into the Retro Seoul through Donuimun Museum Village!

Read More

Location

This place is located in Seoul.

Address: 14-3 Songwol-gil, Sinmunno 2(i)-ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul

How to get there:
From Seoul Station, you can walk for 4 minutes to reach the bus stop called ‘서울역버스환승센터’. There, you must take bus no. 01A or 7024. And to wait for 2 stops. In order to get off at ‘서대문경찰서.농협은행’. After that you must walk for 10 minutes. At this point, I recommend you to check the map to not get confused.

Information:
Operating hours: 10:00 ~ 19:00
Closed on every Monday and January 1st
The admission is free

Conclusion

In this part I of the article, we took a look into the retro Seoul by getting to know the origins of Donuimun Museum Village. So now get ready to know in depth about each of the attractions!

If you have already gone, what are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!

Also, don’t forget to visit my profile to continue reading interesting posts about South Korea! Click here

🇲🇽 Fernanda L. Negrete

Fernanda is an integral designer and korean language student. Who wants to share about her travel experiences and korean history.