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Daelim: Seoul’s Hidden Chinatown

Daelim: Seoul’s Hidden Chinatown

Korea’s most famous and largest Chinatown is definitely Incheon’s Chinatown. Although large, Incheon’s Chinatown lacks something that all other Chinatowns around the globe have–Chinese people.

Incheon's Showcase Chinatown
Incheon’s Showcase Chinatown.

Incheon’s Chinatown was created a bit over a decade ago to attract Chinese investment and tourists to the area when Incheon’s local government pumped 6.5 billion Korean Won into the creation of this superficial Chinatown. Unfortunately, it lacks actual Chinese people living and working in it.

Few people, even Koreans themselves, are unaware that Seoul is host to a hidden gem: Daelim Chinatown.

As a result of the Korea-China amity in 1992, many Chinese citizens flocked to Seoul to seek work at the Guro Industrial Complex nearby Daelim-dong, and eventually about 20,000 Chinese (90% of them being ethnic Korean Chinese) settled in Daelim-dong.

Along with the new residents to the area came Chinese culture and flavor. Many Chinese businesses began to spring up, and nowadays you may find yourself wondering whether you’re still in Korea, or have been transported to China. This Chinatown lacks the large gate found in Incheon and other showcase Chinatowns, but it is full of Chinese people, eateries, and a true Chinese spirit.

Daelim Chinatown
Daelim, a true Chinatown.

The area around exits 4 & 12 of Daerim Station is full of a variety of Chinese restaurants, Chinese retail shops, currency exchange booths, and even dozens of recruitment ads written in Chinese instead of Korean.

Daelim Branch of NongHyup Bank in Chinese!

You can find a wide range of Chinese food served the traditional Chinese way as well as Korean-Chinese food to cater to the local taste. You can find just about any Chinese food you might seek here.

Chinese Street Food
Chinese Street Food in Daelim.

Next time you feel the need to see Chinatown, you don’t have to go all the way to Incheon only to be disappointed by their artificial one, head over to Daerim Station in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul on Line 2 or Line 7, and take exits 12 or 4. You won’t regret it!~

Exit 12 of Daelim Station is the heart of Daelim Chinatown.
Exit 12 of Daelim Station is the heart of Daelim Chinatown.

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