From pig faces to raw dog meat to stinky tropical fruits and black market electronics, Ansan Station offers a crazier collection of sights, sounds, smells, and tasty eats than any other destination in Korea.
Ansan Station’s funky, eclectic blend makes it one of our favorite places to visit. It’s home to good people, interesting markets, and great restaurants.
If you’ve yet to visit Ansan Station, you really should. And if a visit isn’t in the cards for you let this virtual tour give you a taste of what Ansan Station has to offer.
Take a Walk on the Wild Side
Thanks to a massive nearby industrial zone, Ansan Station is ground zero for Korea’s largest migrant community.
Stop by on the weekend and the main street just off the station — known locally as “Asia Street” — will be crawling with men, women, and children from all corners of Asia and many parts of the Middle East.
Perhaps because of this mixed, itinerant population Ansan Station has an unsavory reputation among most of the Koreans who’ve heard of it. They typically regard it as dirty, dangerous, and not the kind of place you’d want to be caught after dark — if at all.
And that’s unfortunate. While Ansan Station is definitely wild it isn’t the den of iniquity it’s often made out to be.
Deadly and dangerous? No. Crowded? Oh my yes — even by Korean standards.
But I think that just adds to the flavor and charm of this unique neighborhood. Walking up Asia Street you’ll hear the latest K-pop ditty punctuated by conversations in Chinese, Thai, Uzbek, and myriad unrecognizable dialects. It is truly a melting pot of people and cultures.
With all the various groups of people who make their home around Ansan Station you can probably imagine how eclectic the market and restaurant scene is in the area.
Markets on either side of the main stretch of Asia Street are piled so high with goods that there’s barely enough room to accommodate one way traffic. And, oh, the glorious goods these market stalls have for sale.
You know what they say about a picture painting a thousand words? I’ll let these pictures do the talking.
And, finally, an image that is sure to offend most of you. Consider this your trigger warning, I guess.
If you know anything about Korean cuisine beyond kimchi and soju it’s probably “Oh, my gosh! They eat dog, right?!”
Yes, they do.
Many Koreans — as with many other Asian ethnic groups — believe that it’s possible to acquire specific health benefits from eating specific animals. For example, eel is famous for (allegedly) improving a man’s virility. Think for a moment about the shape of an eel and it’s easy enough to gather why this particular superstition — ahem — arose.
Likewise, dog meat — generally served here in a meaty stew known as “boshintang” (보신탕) — is revered for promoting a person’s overall health and stamina.
Say what you will about the scientific basis (or lack thereof) for these beliefs, the fact is they are an enduring aspect of Korean culture specifically and Asian culture in general.
For all it’s cultural cache, however, “boshintang” is a source of embarrassment for a lot Koreans — at least when foreigners bring up the subject.
When Korea hosted the Olympics in 1988, the government banned the sale of dog meat. China did the same during the 2008 Olympics.
I think this embarrassment is unfortunate.
Although I understand why most us from American and other western countries would be aghast at the thought of frying up Fido, I feel that this revulsion is misguided at best and pretty damned hypocritical at worst.
If you’re a strict vegetarian then, yes, guilt trip all you want about the horrors of eating dog. You’ve earned your soapbox. But if you’re an omnivore who enjoys the occasional steak or hamburger, what right do you have to mock self-righteous indignation?
Do you think the chickens, pigs, and cows that go into the average Extra Value Meal enjoyed lives of peace and luxury before making the ultimate sacrifice? I don’t think so.
One day I would like to completely cut meat out of my diet. But until that day I’ll not pass judgment on people who enjoy a bow-wow chow down.
Speaking of chowing down…
Ansan Station has the largest selection of restaurants types in Korea outside of Itaewon.
If you’re looking for a single reason to visit, gastronomic bliss should top the list. There are restaurants to temp taste buds of all types, and enough variety on offer to make multiple visits necessary.
Ask a Korean friend about Ansan Station and chances are she’ll tell you to stay away. On this one, though, you’d do well not to trust the locals.
Ansan Station is an exciting place, and well worth the trip.
Ansan Station is located west of Seoul near the end of Line 4.
From the station there are two exits: one above ground that leads to the industrial complex, and an underground exit that will take you straight to Asia Street. Take the underground exit and you’ll wind up right at the mouth of Asia Street.
Thinking about a visit to Ansan Station? Get in touch and we’ll meet you down there!