Cities > Seoul > 7 Things Tourists Don't Do in Seoul, but You Should...

7) Stroll Seoul's Best Satellite

The Metro-Connected Town Center at Seohyeon Station in Seongnam

Seohyeon, Seongnam, Seoul, South Korea

Seoul has an extensive metro system with more than 300 stations. Just like anywhere with a metro, the "catchment area" around some stations is better designed than others.

One of the best station areas that has visited in Seoul is around Seohyeon Station (서현역) on the Bundang Line (분당선). Seohyeon Station is in Seongnam (성남시), which is a "satellite city" of Seoul — effectively a suburb — within the Seoul National Capital Area (수도권). South of Gangnam (강남구), Seongnam is the first planned city in Korea and now has a total population around one million.

Seoul has many stations connected to a shopping mall, but Seohyeon not only directly connects to a mall — AK Plaza (AK플라자) — but also has an attractive, dense, and walkable "town center" built around it.

AK Plaza is beautiful and upscale with a variety of global luxury brands as well as department store staples like clothes, cosmetics, electronics, sporting goods, and the like. It has an affordable food court in the basement (B1) as well as more expensive specialty restaurants on the seventh floor (7F).

If you leave the mall from either Gate 5 or Gate 6, you will pop out into people-only plazas lined with buildings densely packed with restaurants, bars, KTV rooms, trendy clothing shops, cram schools, and other retail that a suburb needs, all immediately around the station and pleasantly reachable on foot. It's a significant nightlife area, but because of its dense, centralized design, it just about always feels vibrant and full of life. It's nowhere near the tourist trail, but it's a nice vibe for a suburb and well worth a visit.

Unfortunately, after the pleasant people friendly town center, the neighborhood becomes more car dependent, and the nearby residential highrises are textbook Modernist clones of one another that would make just about any Western architecture critic bristle. However, these complexes do manage to fit 30,000 or so people immediately around the station, and when combined with the commuter traffic passing through, the neighborhood provides more than sufficient population density to support the retail businesses that give the area its energy.

To eat nearby, in addition to the options within AK Plaza, there literally are hundreds of restaurants around the station. Part of the fun of this kind of neighborhood is just to look up into the highrises, find a restaurant that looks interesting, and then try to figure what route you need to take to get up there, which sometimes can be more complicated than you might think. We did this on one visit to Seohyeon and ended up at the curiously named Modern Chicken (모던통닭), a chain of pubs that also serve a variety of deliciously unhealthy chicken dishes. Another couple of options in the area well-regarded by Koreans include Don Pasta for Italian and 1988 for an inexpensive Korean BBQ buffet.

We've mapped out a representative walk below. It goes from Seohyeon Station through AK Plaza, out into one of the pleasant people-only plazas, through the nearest residential complex — Imachon Hanshin (이매촌한신) — and back to the station.

A special thank you to Raymond Chetti for this suggestion. Raymond is an urban planning consultant and the founder of Urban Land Institute's Young Leaders Group in South Korea.

How to Get Here: Take the Bundang Line (Yellow) to Seohyeon Station. Use Exit 2 into AK Plaza Mall. Gate 5 and 6 from the mall exit into the primary plaza. To follow our suggested walk, use Gate 5.

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  • Writing & Photos By Brock Kyle. All Rights Reserved. Verification Published 26 January 2018. Feedback.