Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park

Next to Dongdaemun Gate is an area of Seoul famous for its countless markets. From clothing to textiles to craft supplies -- it has literally everything you might ever want. Ever. Now, in the middle of these more traditional markets and hip shopping malls, a structure that looks like something out of a futuristic landscape has been added to this area's massive to-do list. This spaceship-like building is the new Dongdaemun Design Plaza, and it's really, really cool.

dongdaemun design plaza and park seoulSpaceship? Or building?!

The Dongdaemun Design Plaza, or DDP, opened its doors on March 21st of this year, after over five years of planning and construction. According to the Seoul Design Foundation's website, the DDP is "the biggest three-dimensional atypical building in the world." 

Just looking at it from the outside is a trip -- all the curves and silvery panels are just aesthetically pleasing. I'd noticed it being built during previous trips into Dongdaemun, wondering what on earth the giant alien structure was going to be, so I was quite eager to finally take a look around.

dongdaemun design plaza and park seoulSo photogenic!

The idea behind the DDP is that it will be a center for everything creative in the design community. Not only is it set up to feature exhibits from artists all over the world in its museum and exhibition halls, but it's full of little spots for these artists to actually sell their products. We were a little overwhelmed by the structure and didn't know where to start exactly with exploring the inside. Luckily, a map is posted at each entrance, explaining how the building is organized. Technically, it's kind of three buildings, which have been connected into one giant, curvy structure. Here's the map we found that was immensely helpful:

dongdaemun design plaza and park seoulKeep an eye out for these on the walls by all the doors!

As you can kinda tell from the above map, the DDP is divided into three sections that are actually three buildings, connected by all the curvy, fancy architecture. The sections are split into zones that cover six floors. To help explain some of what we saw, I'll use the following pictures and their captions: 

dongdaemun design plaza and park seoulThis is a photo from the Design Market, which features various retail shops, many of which are chains that you'll see elsewhere in Korea, and a decent selection of restaurants in a food court. This area in particular is open 24 hours a day! Which is pretty perfect if you happen to be in the area to see Dongdaemun's night markets.

dongdaemun design plaza and park seoulA couple shops in the Design Lab section. This was my favorite -- so many cool little stores selling products featuring up and coming designers. I feel like this would be a really, really good gift shopping spot. A lot of stationery items, gorgeous art prints, and other decorative items. I had to resist the urge to buy almost everything I saw.

dongdaemun design plaza and park seoulAerial shot of a different part of the Design Lab. 

dongdaemun design plaza and park seoulEven the coffee shop looks all space age! The information desks scattered throughout the building also have bizarre designs, but this little pod cafe was my favorite.

dongdaemun design plaza and park seoul
We found little cubby holes! Perfect for children, and us, because we couldn't resist. Nearly everyone was stopping to take photos sitting in these little holes.

Everyone hanging out along the weird cubby-bench-wall. 

No clue why there was a room full of balloons, but no one could go in, and the struggle was real for these little kids. (And me too.)

dongdaemun design plaza and park seoulOutside (and under?) the building is a large park area, called Oullim Square. While we were walking around, we caught sight of a suspicious number of girls in poofy-skirted dresses. Wondering if we might catch a flashmob, we stuck around, only to see not only an impromptu dance performance but also a magic show! 

From its stunning architecture to everything it offers inside, you could easily spend hours upon hours wandering around. In fact, despite the hours we spent there, we didn't see everything! I'm looking forward to going back soon to explore it more and see the building at night. As impressive as it looks during the day, in the evenings the panels light up, making it look even more like a spaceship from another world. 

So, after a day of wandering around the markets, or if you're looking to kill time before going to the late night markets, definitely make a stop by the Dongdaemun Design Plaza. Great shopping, random performances, lots of restaurants, and countless photo ops! 

dongdaemun design plaza and park seoul

Directions & information: 
  • Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station, Seoul Metro Lines 2, 4, and 5, Exit 1. As soon as you go out of exit 1, you'll be in Oullim Square.
  • Hours: Art Hall - 9am-7pm, Museum - 10am-7pm, Design Lab - 10am-10pm, Oullim Square & Design Market - 24 hours! 


  1. Hi Zannah, so basically where to find foods while touring at DDP? Is it in Design Market? If yes, what can we get there? Plus,how much you pay for entrance because in most websites stated that the fees are varied? Hope to see your answer soon. Thank you!

  2. I did the Seoul Secret City Walk Tour of Oneday Korea (http://www.onedaykorea.com/tours/seoul-secret-city-walk-tour/) and they took us to the DDP ! I found this place amazing, the architecture is impressive ! And at night, it is so beautiful ! With the flowers led and everything ! I really liked this place~~