Date of final update : 2022.05.31   |  
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Around Open Port with an Electric Car

Incheon was the third port opened in Korea after Busan and Wonsan. Incheon Open Port’s center is found in today’s Jung-gu District. Jung-gu houses Incheon Chinatown, Museum Street, and Songwol-dong Fairy Tale Village. The “Open Port Story Tour,” operated by Joeun Tour, takes visitors across Jung-gu’s storied streets on an environmentally-friendly electric car.

A Trip ro China on an Electric Car

The first destination one visits on an electric car, reminiscent of a classic car, is Chinatown. Its massive archway, named pai-lou, hides the view that seems to bring visitors to a city in China. Incheon’s Chinatown was formed after the Incheon Port’s opening in 1883. It was the birthplace of the iconic noodles in black bean sauce (jajangmyeon), the most famous dish in Korean–Chinese cuisine. One of the most famous restaurants in Chinatown, Gonghwachun Restaurant now stands as a museum dedicated to noodles in black bean sauce as a Registered Cultural Heritage.

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But dining in Chinatown is so much more than the legacy of noodles in black bean sauce. One can also find delightful treats such as dumplings baked in the oven, mooncakes filled with red beans or dried fruits, etc. Now that you’re driving across the neighborhood, these treats can be enjoyed in a “drive-through.”

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After passing by Uiseondang Temple, a rare example of a Chinese-style Buddhist temple in Korea, one will find the Songwol-dong Fairy Tale Village. If Chinatown was the settlement of the Chinese diaspora, Songwol-dong, the location of the Fairy Tale Village, was for Americans and Europeans.

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Like its name, Songwol-dong Fairy Tale Village is decorated with a fairy-tale theme. Familiar faces such as Pinocchio, Peter Pan, and Cinderella fill the village’s alleyways and buildings. What distinguishes Songwol-dong Fairy Tale Village is its focus on 3D presentation. Utility poles are colored green to bring Jack and the Beanstalk to life, while a three-story villa becomes the castle in which Snow White lives. Korean tales such as “Heungbu and Nolbu” join classical tales like “The Tortoise and the Hare” in trick art installations.

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Jayu Park lies at the end of Donghwamaeul-gil road. Jayu Park predates Tapgol Park of Seoul, built in 1897 over nine years, making this the first modern park in Korea. Originally called Gakguk Park (“each nation’s park”), Jayu Park (“freedom park”) was renamed in memory of the Battle of Incheon, an amphibious landing operation that decisively defeated the North Korean offensive in the Korean War.

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Another pai-lou, the Seollinmun Gate, can be found at the end of Chohanji Mural Street. Four main pai-lou lead to Chinatown, the first beingJunghwamun Gate across Incheon Station and the second being Inhwamun Gate next to the Korean-Chinese Cultural Center. The third is Seollinmun Gate. Then, what is the fourth pai-lou? The fourth pai-lou can be found at “1, Chinatown-ro” in the northern end of Songwol-dong Fairy Tale Village. It is Hanjungmun Gate. When the four pai-lou are connected, the outline of Incheon’s Chinatown is formed.

A Thematic Museum Street with Japanese-Style Buildings

When one passes through Samgukji Mural Street, one of Chinatown’s landmarks, one will find Jemulpo Gurakbu or Jemulpo Club, which rose to fame when it was used as the filming location of the popular TV drama Guardian: The Lonely and Great God. The staircase at the end of Samgukji Mural Street is called the Boundary Stairway of Qing and Japanese Settlements as this formed the border between the Qing (Chinese) and Japanese concessions in Incheon. Concessions are areas of extraterritoriality, or exemption from Korean jurisdiction, established as part of the open port arrangement. That is why Jemulpo Club is known for its Japanese pronunciation, Jemulpo Gurakbu. Jemulpo Gurakbu was a social club for foreigners in the Jemulpo area. Today, it has been reborn as a cultural space hosting various exhibitions.

A Thematic Museum Street with Japanese-Style Buildings1 A Thematic Museum Street with Japanese-Style Buildings2

The road the tour takes from Jemulpo Gurakbu to the Jung-gu Office, the terminus of the Open Port Story Tour, cuts across the former Japanese concession. Also known as the Thematic Museum Street, this street is home to the former Japanese 1st Bank, Incheon Branch (Incheon Tangible Cultural Heritage); former Japanese 18th Bank, Incheon Branch (Incheon Tangible Cultural Heritage); and former Japanese 58th Bank, Incheon Branch (Incheon Tangible Cultural Heritage). These are all located beside each other. These buildings once housed the banks that played an integral part in Korea’s colonial exploitation by Japanese imperialism. Today, the former Japanese 18th Bank’s building houses the Incheon Open Port Modern Architecture Museum, while the former Japanese 1st Bank’s building houses the Incheon Open Port Museum. Incheon’s Jung-gu Office building was originally the Japanese consulate building.

A Thematic Museum Street with Japanese-Style Buildings3 A Thematic Museum Street with Japanese-Style Buildings4

The Open Port Story Tour starts from the Art Platform and Junghwaga (Chinese Street) across Incheon Station and moves to the Jajangmyeon Museum, Songwol-dong Fairy Tale Village, Jemulpo Gurakbu, and Thematic Museum Street in course A or B. Those who prefer greater freedom in course selection can opt for course C, which selects 4 out of 16 available tourist spots. The Open Port Story Tour lasts for about 50 minutes. For more information on the courses, refer to the Joeun Tour website.

A Thematic Museum Street with Japanese-Style Buildings5 A Thematic Museum Street with Japanese-Style Buildings6
  • Address (Joeun Tour), 63, Sinpo-ro 27beon-gil, Jung-gu, Incheon
  • Tel. No. +82-32-777-3773
  • Opening Hours 10:00–17:00 (every hour)year-round
  • Fees Adults at KRW 15,000, visitors above 65 years of age or visitors with disabilities at KRW 12,000, children at KRW 9,000
  • Web Page http://jo-euntour.com/shop
※ The information above may have changed since the initial registration date. Be sure to check before you travel.