Better Know a Dong: Dogye and Sodap

Contributed by Conrad Hughes: The Man With The Plam

View Dogye and Sodab Dong, Changwon in a larger map

The two dongs sitting perpendicular to each other at the end of the Wonidaero can seem a little perplexing at first glance; a large rest area between the vibrant Palyong-dong and the opulence of City 7. But there’s plenty here, certainly: traditional markets, newer shops, boutiques and the oddities that come with being in the oldest area in town.

Dogye means something along the lines of ‘central’ and Sodap something similar to ‘central muddy area’, so there you go. In the 70s, before the creation of Sangnam (or ‘proper central ner-ner’ to translate) Dong and its’ surrounding areas, Dogye and Sodap formed the bulk of the town, mainly due to their proximity to bustling port town Masan.
So here’s some things to do when you’re visiting our mean streets:

Sodap Dong:

Bicycle Mart – excellent range of bicycles, decently priced in the sales, excellent aftermarket parts and free servicing for the most part on bikes bought in the store. In Sodap dong just near Dominos.

Once you have your bicycle set up, you’ll probably want to chow down, so pop along the road and hang a left to head to the main restaurant area of Sodap dong.

Dominos – one of two (or three?) in town, small, perfectly formed. Doesn’t compare to Skybori in Dogye-dong as far as pizza is concerned, but if you don’t want to walk and want delivery, they’ll do it to the surrounding areas.

Gubne Chicken (급네치킨) – sure, there’s one of these in every dong, but here they’re extra nice with service and they will deliver to you even if you don’t speak any Korean whatsoever. Pop in there once, point out your address, write your phone number down and motion a motorbike throttle and eating and they’ll get the picture. Then phone up and grunt ‘chicken’ down the phone and within half an hour it’ll be at your house. Magic.

Okudalk (오꾸닭) – Another chicken place. Great if you like ridiculously loud K-Pop and chicken. Which you clearly do.

Family Mart – The Family Mart on the corner in Sodap Dong is certainly exciting, offering as it does a wide variety of ice creams, soju and drunk old men. Next door is a great samgyeopsal place, and just down the street is a rather wonderful galbi restaurant. Excellent service.

Pizza Etang – Excellent pizza. They have a secret BOGOF policy where if you buy one, you get one free.

After you’ve finished all that food, you’ll probably need to go to hospital. The…

Metro Hospital – across the way in Sodap Dong will cater to all of your needs, although they are a little money hungry and will offer expensive treatments whenever they can. Still, a large hospital that will help you out. Good levels ofEnglish here as well.

Geum Ho On Cheon (금호온천) – And after that long day, sleep and a hot spring is in order- head over to the Geum Ho On Cheon which sits imperviously over the junction by the main road for a proper hot spa/chimjilbang experience and a lovely motel with reasonable prices. I put my mother here.

Dogye Dong:

View Dogye Food Brigade in a larger map

**Above is a map of food to be found in Dogye Dong. To participate in this food finding group, please visit here!

Butchers & Whole Mart – The Whole Mart is a Whole Mart but they always have a decent selection of meat at a reasonable price, as well as the tuna with the won-for-won best macronutritional content (LoHi in the yellow 210g tins, 1700 won I believe) in the country. The butchers is a magical place, however, where the man will give you a discount if you are foreign and will talk you through the various types of meat on offer. And where they come from. I wasn’t interested, but last time I went in he had chicken hearts. I once asked for lean, non-marinated beef, and without fuss, he went out back and came back 3 minutes later with exactly what I asked for. I didn’t ask questions. I just went home and cooked.

Traditional Markets – Sodap has one too, but Dogye’s has been renovated more recently. Runs one street down from the canal and therefore two down from the main road and is filled with cheap clothes, cheap fish, reasonably priced meat, great street food and plenty of rice cakes. No Sangnam Market but open-air and quite pretty and lively to walk through. Decent shoe shop there as well.

Skybori Pizza – The best pizza in Korea, hands down. Better quality bases and toppings than Etang (they use whole wheat for their bases), cheaper than Pizza Gennaro or Il Mulo and gives that wonderful take-out pizza experience as opposed to the Italian pizza that’s quite commonly found here. Family run and a great place to be, an 18″ pizza runs you about 15,000 won and will last a long time. My favourite is the Cajun Chicken or the bog standard Combination. Great chicken here too.

Budae Jjigae (부대찌개)- Military soup, on the main road of Dogye past the well stocked Daiso and Bulloman Chicken on the left hand side. Good and spicy. Last time I ate here I went for the spiciest dish to impress my friend and sweated all over the shop. Delicious.

Cafe Tospia – Opposite the Dogye Elementary School is a little cafe chain toasted sandwich place that basically make hot pockets. Great loyalty cards and good, polite service. Always happy to see you and always happy to serve you. Delicious.

Steampunk Church (새순교회) – Not the official name, that’s the… Sprout Church, but this church is much more friendly than the other large church in the area down the street in Myeongso-dong, has family oriented services and will let you film your movie there if you smile sweetly enough. Opposite Lotteria and has a rather out of place scaffold tower, which is why I call it the Steampunk Church.

Cafe (at the end of the road) – I can’t remember the name at present but just by the We’ve Apartments in Dogye Dong is a great little cafe that does tasty cake and better coffee and tea. Not cheap, but what soybean girl would be caught dead in a cafe where the coffee costs less than a pint?

Now, seeing how we’ve managed to cover the sumptuous Bicycle Mart in Sodap dong, I really should touch on the gym complexes around Dogye, just off the Woni-daero. Next to a small basketball court is the large and surprisingly pretty Seobu Sports Centre. Membership is reasonable at 30,000 won per month for access to the gym. Free swimming is a little more expensive as you normally need to pay per time. I personally don’t enjoy this gym, because the trainers aren’t particularly helpful and the gym itself doesn’t have too much equipment. The pool is standard for Korea (1.1m deep the whole way through), but it does have an ice rink which is kept in pristine condition and available to budding skaters year round. The ice skating crowd there are particularly helpful and willing to help you get started. Lessons aren’t too expensive, either.

However, down the road around a block past Dogye Middle School (도계중학교) lies the Bears/Gomduri Sports Centre (or 곰두리국민체육선터) which for the month of September is free and will be 35,000 afterwards, and 35,000 for a monthly swim membership.

However, the staff, service and equipment are all top notch and there is a rowing machine. so that’s pretty fun. Oh- and one of the employees is basically fluent in English. I like it.

Well, that’s Dogye and Sodap. There’s plenty more to be found, but we’ve covered the essentials – bicycles and pizza.

[Editor’s note: Conrad also wrote/photographed the excellent write up for Gomduri Sports Center. Check it out!]

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