Samcheonggak is a collection of traditional Korean 'Hanok' buildings that rest in the backdrop of Buksaksan Mountain, above the noise of the metropolitan Jongo area.
The area flourishes with nature and wildlife as it was a preserved and a previously private property venue.
The name 'Samcheonggak' is derived from Chinese characters which mean "the pavillion of three purities," these include "pure water," "pure mountains" and "pure humanity."
These buildings have an interesting history as it was first established in 1972 as a traditional entertainment venue (Yojeong), where female dancers (Kisaeng) would entertain male diners and the place was closed to the public as only high-ranking government officials attended these dinners.
It was the location to wine and dine after the first official meeting between the North and South Koreas, 19 years after the ceasefire of the Korean War was signed.
The resulting 1972 communique was an important step forward in North-South relations, as they announced that the two Koreas were committed to a future unification laid down the groundwork for future family reunions.
From 1979, it went through changes when it was sold to a private business owner and operated as a private restaurant. In 1999, the buildings were set for demolition, to be turned into luxury mountainside residences. Samcheonggak was almost lost forever, but the Seoul Metropolitan Government took control to keep it's historic character. They opened it to the public in 2000, and since then it has been under the management of the Sejong Center for the Performance Arts.
Out of the six buildings that make up Samcheonggak, the largest main building is Ilhwadang. On the first floor of the building is one of the place's greatest attractions, a famed quality traditional Korean restaurant where it offers a scenic view of the mountains. It's menu is comprised of dishes that are all made with natural ingredients, and the water from Mt. Bukak. The dishes served here are Korean dishes that have traditionally been enjoyed by royal and aristocratic families.
Upstairs there is Dawon (Ilhwadang), a lounge and wine bar that offers traditional drinks, teas, and wine. Those who want to take in the scenery have the choice of seating in the open wooden balcony.
The area is also a popular venue for wedding ceremonies and banquets.
The area has no entrance fee to roam the grounds nor are visitors obliged to eat and drink at their restaurants, so it makes for a scenic sightseeing trip filled with nature and history.
Address: 330-115 Seongbuk-dong, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul
Free shuttle available at the following bus stops:
1) Gyeongbokgung Palace: Palace Museum
2) Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 6: Jogyesa Temple
3) Jonggak Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 5: Youngpoong Bookstore
4) Euljiroipgu Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exit 1: Samsung Fire Insurance Building
5) City Hall Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 2), Exit 4: Press Center
6) Gwanghwamun Station (Seoul Subway Line 5), Exit 3: Kyobo Bookstore
7) Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 1: Gallery Hyundai