A single street in Seoul is the perfect place to map out a cultural itinerary on your next vacation to South Korea, as Samcheong-ro presents a panoramic view of the capital’s exploding art scene for free, or close to free. Just a 20-minute bus ride from Myeongdong’s shopping streets, Samcheong-ro is Seoul’s premier arts district. Notably, it offers a different view of South Korea’s cultural ascendancy beyond K-pop, K-beauty and K-drama. K-art, too, is going global.
An ongoing exhibition of South Korean experimental artists at The Guggenheim in New York City is proof. Seoul, too, is quickly transforming itself into Asia’s next art capital with its roster of international arts events, including the annual Frieze Seoul. There are other artsy neighbourhoods in Seoul. Hannam and Cheongdam are two with a high density of art galleries. But there is something charming to me about the Samcheong area and its long history, bringing together old and new cultural gems.
Berlin-based artist Manuel Solano’s first exhibition in Seoul at the Korea outpost of the renowned gallery Peres Projects will open on Nov 30.
It is likely that the area blossomed organically, following the move of Gallery Hyundai – South Korea’s longest-running contemporary art gallery – in 1975 from nearby Insa-dong to Samcheong-ro. Contemporary art stalwarts such as Kukje Gallery, established in 1982, line the street. But there are also new kids on the block from the international stage, including Berlin-based gallery Peres Projects, which has just opened its second location in Seoul.
The area will get another jewel in its already gem-studded crown when a new museum, hosting some 23,000 artworks by the late Samsung Group chairman Lee Kun-hee, opens in 2028. Until then, here is a curated list of seven art galleries and museums.
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