This article is part of a regional reporting project in partnership with GoUNESCO, a UNESCO New Delhi initiative.
Name of market: Nagwon/Nakwon Music Arcade (낙원 악기상가)
Address: 110-707 428, Samil-daero, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Operating times: Monday – Saturday (closed on Sundays), 9 AM – 8 PM
How to get there: via subway, Jongno-3-ga Station (Line 1, 3, 5, Exit 5, to your right). It starts on the second floor of Standard Chartered Bank.
- This is the ultimate go-to for music enthusiasts in South Korea. The arcade has everything: from Spanish guitars, baby pianos, to pink guitars customizable with your own name.
- As the arcade is mostly catered for Koreans, the signages are written in Korean as well. Just ask around where “Nagwon Music Arcade” is and locals will be more than helpful to assist you. Tip: It’s on the second floor of “Standard Chartered Bank” just across Exit 5 of Jongno 3 (sam)-ga station.
- Shop owners here know their stuff well as they are serious musicians themselves. You will be safe from vague selling points typical with general music stores.
- It would be useful to learn basic Hangeul (Korean script) and Korean when visiting this market because almost all signs are written in Hangeul. You can check out Talk to Me in Korean, hands down the best resource for Korean language learning!
- South Korea now has an information hotline for tourists, operating 24/7. You can call the office at 1330 (when calling within Korea), or +82 1330 (when calling from outside Korea). Four languages are currently supported: English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
- Why I’m going back: One, it’s South Korea (R and I’s favorite country aside from the Philippines). Two, it’s refreshing to find locals so passionate about music that selling is sort of beside the point. Three, the arcade is just a stone’s throw away from Jongo 3’s food street which is a destination in itself.
- As with any country in the world: Do not quickly assume. Make sense of the why behind the what first and while you’re at it, get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂
P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in the local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut ❤