Memories of The Beatles are preserved on London’s Abbey Road, and the same is true of Audrey Hepburn on the Spanish Steps in Rome, both of which are places that were created by world-famous stars and continuously attract people from all over the world as popular tourist destinations.
There is also such a place in Seoul. With hallyu (Korean pop-culture) taking the world by storm, Seoul Metropolitan Government recently created a special area in Cheongdam-dong and Apgujeong-dong in the hopes that it will one-day become comparable to Abbey Road. That place is K-Star Road.
For foreigners visiting Seoul, K-Star Road and Garosu-gil are places that allow them to feel the presence of Korean stars.
Gangnam’s street of hallyu stars, K-Star Road is where you can find, among other attractions, handprints of China’s favorite Korean film star Jang Na-ra, Han Seung-yeon of the K-pop group Kara, Ok Taec-yeon of the K-pop group 2PM, and many more.
There are numerous cafés along this road that offer overseas hallyu fans information on their favorite stars. And if these fans are lucky enough, they might even catch a glimpse of one of them.
Located near Apgujeong Rodeo Street, K-Star Road runs through an area where major entertainment management companies, such as JYP and S.M. Entertainment, and smaller companies, such as Cube and FNC, are situated. As a result, many Korean celebrities live in the area as well, and may be spotted simply by sitting at a café.
The area also boasts a robust tourism infrastructure. Not only is there a department store, but numerous fashion shops and galleries are found here as well, offering visitors a chance to enrich their cultural life. The opportunity to share the fashion styles of Korea’s top celebrities attracts fans from all over the world.
K-Star Road was created in March 2014 as part of a city branding project titled “K-ROAD.” The road is about one kilometer long, traversing Cheongdam-dong and Apgujeong-dong. Furthermore, a total of 48 “Story Shops” have been selected based on celebrities’ most memorable places and favorite restaurants, and are marked with a bird-shaped symbol so that visitors can find them with ease. Photo-zone benches are installed along the street, and guide books are available at the Gangnam Tourist Information Center and the Story Shops.
At the Gangnam Tourist Information Center visitors can literally see, hear, and touch hallyu at the K-Wave Experience Zone. They can watch unreleased videos of hallyu stars on touchscreens and try on clothes that those stars wore when filming Korean dramas.
With the opening of Esmod, a French fashion institute, in 1989 and the establishment of Seoul Mode Fashion Institute in 1991, Garosu-gil became a hotspot for aspiring designers and designers who had studied abroad.
This was how Garosu-gil, Korea’s trendiest place for fashion, was born.
The relocation of Gallery Yeh from Jong-ro to Garosu-gil in 1982 marked the opening of the first commercial gallery in Gangnam, leading Garosu-gil to be called the “Street of Artists.” Also, the numerous multi-brand shops, pop-up stores, and frequent flea markets make it an excellent place to find good bargains.
Even regular people walking down the sidewalk look chic and fashionable here. As the place for shopping and tourism in Korea, it has an eccentric flair not found anywhere else in the country. Some years ago, when the 700-meter road from the Sinsa-dong branch of IBK Bank to Sinsa-dong Community Service Center became saturated with shops, nearby Serosu-gil, which runs parallel to Garosu-gil, also became home to numerous unique cafés and shops. The alleys of the fashion-conscious, which stretch out both horizontally and vertically, are invigorated by their popularity among tourists and the younger generations.
Garosu-gil may be a fashion hotspot, but Serosu-gil is the hottest place to be, and it has ushered in a golden age for back alley businesses in the area.
Extending from Exit 8 of Sinsa Station on Subway Line 3 towards Dosan Park, Serosu-gil runs parallel to Garosu-gil. The name “Serosu-gil” has two origins: one is the Chinese character “Se (細)” meaning “thin or narrow,” and the other is “Sero (vertical)” as opposed to the “Garo (horizontal)” in “Garosu-gil.” There is even a saying, “Shop on Garosu-gil, but eat on Serosu-gil.”
Since 2013, the rising cost of rent in the area has been forcing designers and artists to leave Garosu-gil and settle down along Serosu-gil, creating a new commercial district. A street for artists, Serosu-gil has inherited the original features of Garosu-gil, featuring numerous small art stores and workshops. One of the major topics of discussion here, as is typical of any hangout place for young people, is which restaurants are the best, with related information spreading through word-of-mouth and SNS.
Like K-Star Road, Serosu-gil is also frequented by Korean stars, making it one of Gangnam’s most famous destinations among foreign tourists.