Once upon a time some Korea-based bloggers met up for lunch at Burger B. And they had an idea – to explore random parts of Seoul by different subway lines and write about. And then, one person actually followed up on it. Thus, the Seoul Subway Challenge was born.
I am happy to bring you my guide to Seoul Line 1. To be honest, this is a totally daunting task and I am just lucky to leave near Line 1, use it all the time, and already have lots of info about various areas near it. Line 1, as you might imagine, was the first subway line in Seoul. It opened in 1974, between Seoul Station and Cheongnyangni Station. As Seoul decided to expand its subway, it just added on rail to this line until it needed to go in other directions. In 2000, the various parts of the line were merged.
As you can see by the map, this line is a little out of control. First of all, it has a split at Guro Station, going both to Incheon (about 22 miles of track from Seoul Station) and Cheonan (about 58 miles of track from Seoul Station). Then you have that weird little spur to Gwangmyeong. Finally, you have the rapid trains which only stop at some stations – there are 4 total. Overall, there are 97 stations, and the whole line is 123 miles long. Really, just ridiculous. Clearly, I wasn’t able to go to every station, and my explorations have been a little deficient on that top side of the map. But I’ll do my best to show you a few different places on the line.
Just across the street from Incheon Station is Incheon’s Chinatown, Korea’s largest. Historically this area was set aside for Chinese immigrants (there is a street that marks the Chinese part separate from the Japanese part). Many of the restaurants there today are not very old, however. It is an interesting place to visit but it will be smaller and less ‘authentic’ than you expect.
Next door to Chinatown is Jayu Park. This park has memorials concerning the Battle of Incheon, a decisive moment in the Korean War. UN and Korean soldiers had been pushed all the down to Busan. An amphibious attack was led mostly by General MacArthur and the US Marines which was able to cut the North Korean supply lines and allowed them to push the North Korean soldiers back almost to the Chinese border. In this park I have actually been thanked for being American, which was a little odd.
A short bus ride (take bus number 2) from the station is Wolmido, consisting mostly of a boardwalk next to the sea. There are a couple small amusement parks, and it’s a good place to get raw fish.
Dongincheon was the station closest to my apartment, so I know it pretty well. There is a big market called Sinpo Market about 10 minutes walk away. You can find quite a few good foreign restaurants in the area, because historically a lot of immigrants working in the harbor lived here, and now there are still immigrants here working in shipping and factories. Some good places are Arabesque, run by people from Jordan (take the underground to exit 5), and Samarkand, an Uzbeki restaurant (near Sinpo Market). There is a chain called Sinpo Woori Mandu, which is a great dumpling place whose original location is behind Sinpo Market. Supposedly, they created jjolmyeon, a type of cold spicy noodle.
Juan is a built up area kind of similar in appearance to my next entry, Bupyeong. There is a CGV movie theater at the station. Several good restaurants surround the station. Not far away is a big row of wedding halls.
When I walked to Bupyeong from my house, I saw this lovely little park close to Baegun Station. The area around the station looked old.
Bupyeong is really built up and full of neon lights. It’s one of the nightlife centers of Incheon. Just in the station you have a Lotte Cinema, Lotte Mart (supermarket), Outback Steakhouse, food court, and it’s attached to a massive underground shopping center. Good restaurants nearby include Bihanee, a Nepalese place (turn right out of the station past McDonald’s and it’s just down the street), a couple of good chain dalkgalbi (spicy chicken) places – Yugane (underground exit 21) and Haneul BonDalk (underground exit 12), and our favorite bar, Cheap Shots (underground exit 12). The McDonald’s at the station is where everyone meets up.
Bucheon has a Seven Springs salad bar restaurant which is pretty tasty. It also has the magical Aiins World, which I loved and wrote about before.
I really thought I had other pictures of the area around Guro. Anyway, there is an Outback Steakhouse there. There’s also a really nice place to stay near the station called the Daelim Residence which is where Jeff’s parents stayed. Guro is where Line 1 splits so it’s convenient to Incheon, Seoul, and the Cheonan branch of Line 1.
Right near the station is Times Square Mall, a huge, Western-style mall attached to a Shinsegae Department Store. A number of decent chains have locations here, like Seven Springs, Mad for Garlic, and On The Border (which I haven’t tried, but I’m assured it’s good).
Right next to the station at Noryangjin is the Noryangjin Fish Market. To me this is a must-do when you’re in Seoul. Go to the market, pick out a live fish and/or some shellfish, and take it to a restaurant in the market where they will cook it up for you.
Yongsan Station is next to the Yongsan Electronics Market. It’s the place to go if you want something with a power cord. It’s massive – stretching over 20 buildings, with 5,000 stores.
Exit 7 or 8 will get you to Changdeokgung, one of the grand palaces, with its awesome Secret Garden. It’s on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
There’s Jongmyo Shrine, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Take exit 3, 9, or 10.
There’s a big musical instruments market outside of exit 5, too.
Take Exit 8 to Gwangjang Market. Eat something. Thank me later. (Cheonggyecheon Stream and Bangsan Market Baking Street, a place to get all your baking accessories, are also nearby.)
Dongdaemun, meaning “Great East Gate” is named for the big gate it is next to, which used to be part of the wall surrounding Seoul. Now it seems a bit lonely. The area is known for shopping. As far as I can tell, you can buy adjumma (old lady) clothes, shoes, and strange pets here. It is also close to the Cheonggyecheong Stream.
Near Jegi-dong Station is an herbal medicine market and museum. Long ago I went to a festival here.
Suwon is the site of Hwaseong Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Go check out the palace and the fortress walls, a short bus ride from the station.
As you can see, I’ve seen a bit of Line 1, largely on the Incheon side. There’s still more to explore, but sadly, I’m no longer in Korea to do it.
Luckily for you, this is part of a series and you can see all these other fantastic posts about other subway lines. Please check them out!
- Line 2– Sam & Audrey from Backpacking Travel Blog
- Line 3 – Andrea from World Walkabout
- Line 4 – Sarah from Mapping Words
- Line 5 – Amanda from Farsickness
- Line 6 – Loren from Chincha Mag
- Line 7 – Tom from Waegook Tom
- Line 8 – Sheryll from Wanderlust Project
- Line 9 – Devan from My Korea Quest
Have you seen any other parts of Line 1?