Past the entrance gate, cheap souvenir stands blot the uphill walk. Offering genuine “Made in China” artifacts, Incheon is the closest one can get to China without embarking upon the international ferries across the harbor.
Where the two main thoroughfares bisect, there is an abundance of restaurants. Each window is shellacked into opacity with posters; a myriad of reality TV celebrities lurk between Chinese food dishes and menus. Inside an audience-approved business, Barret tried jjajangmyeon, a wheat noodle dish smothered in a black bean sauce. This Chinese-Korean fusion dish originates from Incheon and has grown in such popularity that is has its’ own recognized date. Every April 14th on Black Day, singles consume jjajangmyeon to celebrate/mourn their unattached status.
While not necessarily authentic (the San Francisco Chinatown feels grittier and more realistic despite being significantly further away), the strings of red paper lanterns and painted dragons peering out of alleyways offer different scenery from the rest of the peninsula. The informational guide posts and tastefully decorated garbage canisters make Incheon a sanitized and palatable version of China, but one well worth the visit.
How to get there: Seoul Metro Line 1, Incheon Station