Walking through Gangnam via Google

Monday, August 06, 2012

Yesterday's post on Psy's song Gangnam Style ended with an embedded map in an intersection in Gangnam that is fairly typical of how the area is viewed: a Starbucks, some foreign car dealerships, and a lot of low buildings. With Google Maps (or Daum or Naver's service) it's sometimes hard to find the interesting parts of a district one doesn't know, so I'll add a few more interesting starting points.

-- Gangnam Station, exit 7. I think the exit number might have changed with the completion of construction of a new subway line to join the line 2...this place is probably the archetypal Gangnam location, with a lot of coffee shops and glitzy buildings. That bus-only lane in the middle was added a few years ago because the walkways on the left and right are extremely crowded to begin with, and now the main bus stops are in the middle of the street (halfway across the intersection). This area has a lot of people in their early 20s.

-- A typical back street nearby. The back streets are more fun, with some houses (you can see one on the left) behind high walls, small restaurants, shops and other small companies.

-- Seonjeongneung. A fairly large park and royal graveyard, the walking path encircling the park is very well used because to actually get in costs 1000 won ($1) and there is only one entrance and exit. The air right around the park is a few degrees colder than elsewhere and is nice to walk by in the summer. The other interesting thing about this place: turn 180 degrees and start walking and you'll find a fairly seedy district for about a block or two. After that you get to the main street and it is now large buildings again and the seediness is gone. So you have three different atmospheres within a very short area: nice park --> seedy area --> business district.

-- COEX. A huge underground mall, movie theatre, world trade centre, huge exhibition centre. There is always something interesting going on here: a German investment and culture fair, car show, somebody's super expensive wedding, even the G20. When the G20 or other such event takes place the whole area is locked down though and getting into COEX is out of the question.

-- Just across the Han looking at Hyundai IPark apartments. Technically not Gangnam but it's just a subway station away, and was featured in the Gangnam Style video. The view from the road is a bit farther back and the air wasn't that good when Google drove through so it's hard to see them.

-- Hyundai IPark apartments from closer up. The most expensive apartments in the area.

-- Rodeo Street. Bars, restaurants, nightlife.

-- The richest street of all in Apgujeong. Gucci, Armani, plastic surgery clinics, etc. Go down the street a bit and you get to the Galleria department store, where celebrities like to be seen shopping.

-- Garosu-gil, a street with trendy restaurants and things. Kind of like Rodeo Street but ritzier.

Now let's get away from the more superficially well-known parts of Gangnam.

-- Yangjaecheon in the south. This is a more residential part of Gangnam with fewer stores and more high-rise apartments, and Yangjaecheon (a stream) is a particularly nice area in which to walk. This stream continues east until it joins the Han river as a tributary, and the park has lots of reeds, frogs, things like that.

-- Entrance to Gangnam-gu office! Take care of your bureaucratic matters here.

-- I think this is the Yangjae flower market. I went there at night with a friend before by car and don't remember what it look like during the day. You can take care of your midnight flower buying here.

-- Seorae Village where all the French engineers and their families live. Technically outside of Gangnam but very close.

-- And finally, a quaint park called Dosan Park that, while not all that big, is a good place to live next to. Kind of like Seonjeongneung but on a smaller scale, and no dead royalty.


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