Incheon Port Walking Street Transports Tourists Back in Time

Many historical buildings and cultural artifacts dating back to the late 19th century remain near Incheon Port, which opened in 1883. Of special interest to tourists is Gaehangnuri-gil, a walking street that starts from Incheon Station, passes through Chinatown and the so-called Art Platform, and ends at Freedom Park.

The tour begins at a huge pavilion that marks the entrance to Chinatown. Chinese government offices used to be located here and, despite all the changes over the decades, it still looks much as it did all those years ago. Chinese residents have lived in the area since the port opened.

Sampling a bowl of jajangmyeon, or black bean sauce noodles, is a no-brainer for visitors to this historic area. The restaurants here serve the noodles in a variety of creative ways -- with seafood, white sauce, and tofu, among other ingredients -- meaning people can try a different variant each day for a week. Prices vary from W5,000 to W10,000 (US$1=W1,024) a dish.

In fact, the dish is so famous it even merits its own museum. An old restaurant called Gonghwachun was remodeled into the Jajangmyeon Museum in 2012. Tourists can learn about the history of the Chinese-Korean noodles and see various exhibitions there for a token entrance fee of W1,000.

Walking along the path from the museum takes people past a 90-cm tall mural showing scenes from "The Romance of the Three Kingdoms." It begins with an image of the three main heroes of this classical Chinese text swearing blood oaths. It takes about 20 minutes to amble past the mural, making for a fun and animated history lesson.

A statue of Confucius stands nearby above a set of stairs that separated the Chinese and Japanese concessions when the port first opened. The stairs are lined with Chinese- and Japanese-style stone lamps that lead down to a number of Japanese-style buildings.

Art Platform is another tourist attraction that has been used as the setting for numerous dramas and movies. It was transformed into a cultural arts center in 2009 and now runs free exhibitions year-round, with concerts and events held on weekends.

The arts center leads up a hill to Freedom Park. First opened in 1882, Korea's first modern park blooms with cherry blossoms in spring and is painted a different hue in fall due to the red and yellow foliage. It serves as a great vantage point to take in vistas of the West Sea and sunset over the port.

Guided tours are recommended for those interested in learning more about the walking street. Visitors have a choice of three tours ranging from one to three hours. For more details call 032-760-6495 or visit http://cafe.daum.net/inmunkwan.

englishnews@chosun.com / May 27, 2014 10:56 KST