Before going home,
Get beautiful Korean souvenirs
at Yakjeon Alley
Insadong is a well-known hub for buying souvenirs in Korea, but, unfortunately, it’s in Seoul and not down here in Daegu. With many foreigners getting ready to go home for good or for a visit this summer, buying souvenirs and gifts for family and friends is something on many to-do lists right now. Never fear! Daegu does have some great Korean souvenir shops. These shops don’t sell the typical tourist souvenirs, but they do have excellent, traditional pottery and ceramic items.
So if souvenirs and gifts is what you’re after, focus your attentions on the area behind the YMCA. Go out of exit 13 at banwoldang station. Continue walking straight until you get to the outdoor fountain (it may or may not be turned on). Turn left and cross the street. Walk straight down the street with Starbucks on the corner. When you get to the next intersection, turn right. This street has a wealth of pottery and ceramic shops, some boutiques for traditional Korean rice cakes used during Korean holidays and festivities, and a number of stores selling herbal medicines.
There are three shops, all along the right side of the street, to check out. The items range in price at each store, so make sure to check with the staff before deciding on any purchases. You’ll know all of these shops by the large displays of pottery in the display windows, so just keep your eyes pealed.
1st Souvenir Shop: 예원(Yay Won)
The first shop is called yay won (예원). It has a black and white sign with a little bit of red lettering at the top. The building has a blue address sign on it with the number 18. This shop has tons of things displayed on shelves, so be careful not to hit things if you’re carrying bags. Here, you’ll find small kimchi pots, mugs, and kitchen utensils. There’s also a good selection of loose leaf tea at the back of the shop. Each bag is about 20,000 won, so if you’ve got a craving, it’s not a terrible price to pay. There are also a lot of kitchen items made of wood in bins in the middle of the shop. This shop is probably in the medium to cheap range in terms of price of the items. Please note that this store is not open on Sundays.
2nd Souvenir Shop: 홍백원(Hong Baek Won)
The second shop is called hong baek won (홍백원). The sign is red and white, and there’s a wooden staircase just inside the entrance to the shop. You’ll know it because you’ll see an old woman in traditional Korean clothes, hanbok, sitting on a bench in what seems to be the back of the shop. The front room has some pottery bowls and mugs all stacked in the window and along the walls. Continue walking through the shop, past the old woman, and the store opens up into what seems like more of a display section. Despite the expensive-looking displays, the items in this shop are very reasonably priced. There are tea cups and sets, Korean wedding ducks, and traditional mugs. The mugs are a great purchase; for only 15,000 won, they come with a saucer, a lid, and a removable, pottery loose-leaf tea strainer all in the same traditional, green color that many items in Korea are painted in.
3rd Souvenir Shop: 다소원(Da So Won)
The last shop is for those of you looking for something on the pricier side. It’s called da so won (다소원). The storefront is all dark wood panels, and there’s a small, white sign with red lettering next to the door. Above the display window, there’s a red sign with white lettering that says, “Taetea.” It’s the biggest shop of the three. It is also operated by a woman wearing traditional hanbok. This shop has what seems to be a display of cheaper teacups and utensils to the right of the door as you enter. To the left, there are more decorative pieces and expensive tea sets and cups. The items in this shop are truly very beautiful, but some are quite expensive. At the back of the shop, you can find Korean place mats and coasters that would make great gifts. It seems as though the woman runs the shopping section of the store, and her husband does tea tastings, which almost seem like consultations of some sort, at the back.
These three stores are just a few of the many ceramic shops on a street that should be known as “traditional culture alley.” Check out all the shops, and get some lovely gifts for your friends and family. And don’t forget to get something for yourself!