Enjoy these small luxuries in Seoul for free
Coco Chanel once said, "The opposite of luxury is not poverty, but vulgarity.” Indeed, you don’t need money to appreciate the beauty of many things in life. You just need to look for the right events and places in Seoul to discover the small luxuries of the everyday. Perhaps you need to stretch your body through yoga while appreciating world-famous paintings, or listen to classical music at one of the renovated palaces. Whatever extravagance you seek, here are some events to rejuvenate your body without shelling out the big bucks for brand names.
4 must-try craft beer pubs in Seoul and vicinity, as recommended by experts
Seoul’s craft beer scene is quickly burgeoning with many taprooms around the city catching on the global trend—and more importantly, with those who are working hard to bring in skills and expertise. 4 beer experts, who are pub owners, veteran managers, beer magazine publishers and/or certified beer judges themselves, each recommended a spot based on the personality and creativity of the beers and overall concept. Check out these spots to discover the most exciting craft beer offerings around the city right now.
Your 24-hour itinerary in Seoul: The wallet watcher
It's a 13-course itinerary offering a little bit of everything—from history and culture to food, drinks, relaxation and party. Get free tours at some of Seoul's oldest sites, enjoy art exhibits and movie screenings for free, eat yummy food and hang out at cool bars on the cheap and find quality music and nightlife, all under 50,000 won. Getting around won't be won't be much of a problem as each and every spot can be easily reached by subway.
Shop for a good cause: Marymond Post-it
The ‘Marymond Post-it’s’ is an art and human rights project. Each season, a victim of sexual slavery under Japanese colonial rule (the wianbu 'comfort women') is asked to be interviewed for her personal stories and histories, in a form of an in-person interview or an autobiography. These personal accounts and narratives are translated into patterns and designs, each with a type of flower delicate to the women and their sense of dignity. The latest edition of the ‘Marymond X Post-it’ collaboration shows Rose of Sharon flowers and Yellow Roses in full bloom. The Rose of Sharon symbolizes Kim Hak-soon, a daughter of an independence activist and also the first victim to have testified her ordeals; the Yellow Rose represents Gil Won-ok, a surviving victim who remains strong and inspiring for the younger generations. The full series contains the ‘Post-it® X Marymond Rose of Sharon Pack’ (3,500 won), ‘Post-it® X Marymond Yellow Rose Pack’ (3,500 won) and ‘Post-it® X Marymond Yellow Rose Flags’ (2,000 won). 50% of more of all profits made by the collaboration will go into supporting the war rape victims of Congo and Vietnam, establishing a non-profit foundation and memorial and funding international campaigns and welfare for the women.
Dog-friendly restaurants, bars and cafés you should take your furry friend to
What do you do when you want to party and don’t want to leave your companion animal at home? Well, next time you plan on grabbing a few drinks with your buddies, ask them to meet at one of these places in Seoul and take your furry friend with you!
The gifts you know your pet deserves
For loving families of animals, who feel their pets deserve to be treated with all the loving they have all year round, gift-giving is not limited to birthday or Christmas. From all-natural soaps for healthy skin to aromatherapy and even a pet-cam for your pet to be with you wherever you go, this list of items will do good for your pet from head to toe.
Lotte World Mall
Yes, it's that huge mall located in Jamsil. It's already been 2 years since its spotlighted inception, but the mall is still very much hot, especially during cold winter days. How so? Contrast to its futuristic exterior, Lotte World Mall is filled with cozy, comforting and inviting venues you'll want to keep returning to. All you need to do is to check out our list of suggestions before you head there so you don't waste your day running up and down the floors, wandering around the 106 acres of space.
Seoul bars open during this Chuseok holiday
Having a longer holiday doesn't mean that your taste should be sacrificed. Check out our list of bars in Itaewon, Hongdae, Gangnam, Jongno and Myeongdong that will be open during this Chuseok holiday.
Listings and reviews (29)
The only brewery located outside of Seoul on this list, Playground Brewery is what everybody in the Korean craft beer industry is talking about—including Kang Ki-moon, the owner of Can Maker by Craftbros. Located in Ilsan, Playground Brewery’s spacious interior and locally-brewed beers make for a one-of-a-kind experience. If you truly love beer, this trip outside of Seoul will be well worth it. Founded in Jan 2016, Playground Brewery’s rapid success may come as a surprise, but the brewery had been in the works for years with many institutional hurdles delaying its launch. In fact, the brewery would not be where it is today if not for the trio behind it all: CEO Chun Soon-bong, who spent years in the beverages industry, and his partners, Brewmaster Richard Kim and Creative Director Keunha Kim. Realizing the limits of brewing with imported ingredients in Korea, the team decided to make use of the country’ resources as much as possible. By converting recipes to include mostly domestically-sourced ingredients, the brewery was able to produce a wide variety of distinctly Korean craft brews. The seasonal Ruby Saison, for example, showcases delicate aromas of bokbunja (Korean black raspberry) grown in the local Ilsan region. The cultural significance extends beyond the beer itself in the creative design of the logos. The playground logo of the brewery evokes fond memories of many childhoods in Korea as well as the playful craft spirit, while the reinterpreted hahoetal (traditional m
Can Maker by Craftbros
Looking for gift ideas for that one friend who loves beer? Jo Ye-lim, a BJCP-certified manager of Sour Pongdang, thinks you’ll definitely find something at Can Maker by Craftbros. In her words, its "execution of ideas is simply brilliant". While you can try over 40 different kinds of craft beer from all over the country in-store, you’ll probably want to buy some of these specially-designed cans to-go as well. Indeed, many come to this spot in Seorae Village not only for the diversity of craft beers but also for the unique souvenir that comes with each can. The design tells a whimsical story that lets you always remember the flavors and experience you had while drinking the beer. The designs can only be appreciated after realizing how each can is a visualization aptly representing the specific beer contained inside. Each beer is also given its own line of products, including glassware, coasters and even posters. One of the most popular designs is for the ‘Brat’ double IPA, which features a cute character with its faced scrunched to highlight the dynamic taste of the 5 different kinds of hops used. Another example is with Craftbros Cosmos IPA, whose 3-dimensional poster was designed to symbolize the out-of-this-world sensation of the beer’s citrusy and hoppy flavors delicately combined in one sip. Many customers have come to associate the beers with their specific designs to the point that some ask for a beer by describing the design. The name of the beer becomes almost irrelev
Hansel & Gretel
Supported by the loyal patrons and chefs alike who frequent the shop for the wide variety of high-quality cheese and smoked goods, Hans & Gretel has kept its presence in Hannam-dong for almost 2 decades. And it’s no wonder Hans & Gretel continues to do well, without any advertising on its part — the quality of their pastrami and aged Gouda are especially great, always urging you to come back for more. They are also always stocked up on unique items like orange olive oil and everyone’ favorite, Gruyère cheese (trust us — you'll make the best sandwich you’ve ever had). A few of pricey items like truffle balsamic and pickled olives are available in small packaging, which is great when prepping a single meal. No matter how skilled or unskilled you are at cooking, grocery shopping will become a rather enjoyable activity here as the friendly owner help you find the perfect ingredients and even suggest simple yet delicious recipes (and also let you sample many of his delectable selections). Focusing on providing quality products at a low cost, Hans & Gretel has been refused offers to be set up in mega department stores. And recently, they have moved their location to the newly built I’Park building in Hannam Ogori, where they continue to offer great selections at great prices.
St. Joseph Apartments
Coming out of exit 4 from Chungjeongno Station (line 2), you will notice a slight hill on the right side. Taking a short hike up, you will reach Jungnim-dong’s Citizen’s Center at the top of the hill. Continuing the path will take you down an alley known for housing Korea’s first ever residential and commercial complex, the St. Joseph Apartments. They were actually first built to house those religiously devoted to the Yakhyeon Cathedral and is the reason why many of them still live there. Unfortunately, as the buildings have aged while the area has grown denser, the narrow alley is almost reminiscent of a street market instead of an apartment complex, with the first floor shops extending out into the streets and electric wires zigzagging throughout the sky view. Although the complex might not be the most appealing tourist attraction Seoul has to offer, it is in the process of becoming one of Seoul’s ‘Future Heritage’ sites for its unique architecture and 50 year old history.
Jungnim-dong’s former name is Yakgogae, or Yakhyeon-dong. During Joseon Dynasty, the neighborhood was the designated area to grow herbs which were to be used as traditional medicine for the Emperor – thus the name Yakhyeon-dong, which has the Chinese character ‘yak’ which translates to ‘medicine.’ Obviously, the name has been changed, and the neighborhood’s vintage cathedral is the only place that is continuing to honor the former title. There are 2 reasons the Yakyeon Cathedral is known for. First, the location of the religious building was formerly the home of the woman who first invented the medicinal rice (yakbap) and medicinal snacks (yakgwa). Regarded as one of Joseon’s 3 ‘wise mothers’, she was known for her skill in growing medicinal herbs and cooking. Second, Yakhyeon Cathedral is Korea’s first basilica-style building. Designed by priest Eugene Coste (from Russia), it has gothic qualities both inside and out. The frameworks of the building include an arched roof, which can also been seen in the celebrated Myeongdong Cathedral. Having been built in 1892, it is over 125 years old, still standing proud on a Jung-gu hilltop (you can’t miss its deep and glorifying red hues while in the area). The beautiful cathedral has been portrayed in a few Korean dramas including Bread, Love and Dreams (2010) and My Girlfriend is a Gumiho (2010), as well as films including A Brand New Life (2009).
So the restaurant is named Thunder Bald because the owner of this restaurant gets his ‘thunderous’ idea from his balding head – thus Thunder Bald. Whether it has anything to do with the concept or taste of the restaurant, well you will have to be the judge of that. One thing for certain is that everything from the interior details to the separate lunch and dinner menus, has been through his hands. When you approach the restaurant, you can’t really look in because of the tall glass panels reflecting light. But once you open the door, you will feel that the restaurant is so distant from the whole area. Its slight industrial interior elements, with the hanging Edison light bulbs, dark wooden tables with iron chairs, bricked wall and red velvet curtains, it may even give off a 20’s American vibe. But don’t let this vintage atmosphere scare you off - nothing on their lunch menu exceeds 10,000 won. Whether you choose the brunch set, the pork steak, the yaki curry, or the humongous chicken breast salad, it won’t be hurting your pockets. Yes, the dinner menu is different, but only just a tad bit more costly. Each dish, lunch or dinner, is extremely filling, tasty and best of all, affordable. The yaki curry is oven-cooked Japanese-style, topped with a blanket of mozzarella cheese. Served in a small Le Creuset pot, it’s one of the smaller lunch menu specials. If you’re looking for a healthy selection, the chicken breast salad might be your pick. The bowl comes filled with lettuce, chic
This petite white, house-shaped bakery is an easy spot. It was made with one thought in mind – baking a decently healthy Madeleine for her child to enjoy. The result, 9 fantastically made flavors, which make up the majority of menu items offered at this shop. They are all made with rice flour (making it easier to digest) and butter made by Seoul Milk, leaving no room for trans-fat to be anywhere on the ingredient’s list. Butter seems to be the soul of these Madeleines, as you can smell its richness when you open the cloudy packaging. When you take a bite of it, you will notice that instead of being chewy, it has an airy texture (due to the rice flour), filled with the fragrance and sweetness of the flavor you chose. The original flavor, however, might not satisfy the taste buds of Madeleine maniacs, as the smell of rice flavor subtly remains as the aftertaste. A recommended flavor is the black tea. It has a strong scent from the Ceylon tea leaves that were used to process the flavor. The chocolate wasn’t too sweet and you could tell that good quality cocoa powder was used from the scent that fills your mouth. If you are ever in the neighborhood and in need of a quick pick-me-up, this homey white Madeleine bakery is where you need to go.
On the Beach at Night Alone
Many of Hong Sang-soo’s films are reminiscent of Samuel Beckett’s en attendant Godot. Blatantly laying out complex and almost pedantic dialogues, the slow transition of sequences and fast zooms, the films' artistic qualities have won a number of critics' hearts at the acclaimed international film festivals — the director has had a good run so far, by winning The Golden Leopard of Locarno Film Festival's 68th edition in 2015 (Right Now, Wrong Then), along with Best Actor in Leading Role and Best Director at the 64th San Sebastian Film Festival (Yourself and Yours) in 2016. Earlier this year, On the Beach at Night Alone was invited at Berlin Film Fest, where it achieved Best Actress in Leading Role for Kim Min-hee’s performance. The subject which the film mainly deals with is 'love.' What is particularly interesting in this regard is that the film has the power to make the subject a rather tempting pursuit, while it does a great job in drawing out love’s misery, that is. Split into mainly two parts, the film's background in the first part is the aftermath of Young-hee’s (played by Kim Min-hee) break up with Sang-won (played by Moon Sung-keun). Heartbroken Young-hee, who still manages to believe in true love, finds herself in Hamburg re-accounting her love story with a friend, Ji-young (played by Seo Young-hwa). The second half of the movie takes place in Young-hee’s hometown of Gangneung. Now, she’s changed, at least on the surface, and doesn't hesitate to express her anger,
The Handmade Shoe Street
The street might only be around 100-meters long, but history is rooted deeply in the area. During the post-independence era, shops here started off by selling refurbished boots left behind by the soldiers of the U.S. army. Because of its close proximity to Seoul Station, an area bustling with people, the shops were extremely profitable. To give a simple comparison, back in the 70’s a bowl of jajangmyeon noodles cost 50 won, while handmade women’s shoes cost around 9000 won. The prices were high, but so was the demand, especially by those who considered them fashionable. Although, it might seem weird now that this place even had its heydays (as the shops don’t seem too frequented), they still make high quality handmade dress shoes and heels. But the shops on the street have changed focus – they are now known for their high quality dance shoes. Because dancing puts a lot of pressure and stress on your feet, it is important to have shoes that fit perfectly and retain its comfort for a long duration. One noticeable difference between normal shoes and dance shoes are the sole. It’s made of a suede material because it needs to slide well on the floor. S hoemakers here have 5 to 10 years of experience in making great shoes, and continue to receive orders from the middle-aged population. For a fully handmade pair of shoe, it will only set you back 50,000 won. A fun fact about this street is that the signs hung up on the stores are the originals that have been created back in the 70’s
High Street Market
Along with a selection of Western groceries (and a few dozen types of items imported from Thailand and Japan), High Street Market offers a proper deli in one side of the shop. Here, you can find homemade dips including several types of hummus (tahini, Sriracha and fresh basil) and artichoke & spinach dip, as well as ready-to-eat meals such as Bolognese lasagna, all of which are cooked by manager and Italian chef Andrea. There is also a baked goods section where you can find different types of bread and desserts including carrot cake, fig tarts, banana bread and brownies, as well as homemade spreads such as almond butter, cashew butter, and apple butter. With a nice sandwich and soup menu and a café, High Street Market makes for a nice spot for casual lunches, as well. Priced between 6,900 won and 9,900 won, the sandwich menu is quite extensive, with pastrami and pulled pork as a couple of popular items (you can choose to have your sandwich with rye or ciabatta bread if you wish). While the café menus are quite reasonably priced (from 2,900 won), you can of course go for the self-serving wine (5,000 won per glass), too.
It’s nothing extravagant, but it’s got a number of items that aren’t easily found elsewhere. Fresh vegetables and herbs including dill and arugula are sold in small packaging, while an array of imported condiments and oils are offered at a relatively low price. The frozen products section is also stocked up with a good selection, which includes okra, lemongrass and whole turkeys. Whenever we visit here for groceries, though, we’re always tempted to get lots of snacks: salt & vinegar flavored potato chips, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Cheetos Puffs. Dandy’s Grocery also offers reasonably priced wines and 6-pack beers including Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Perfect for one-stop shopping before a meal-prep, this humble store is kept by two friendly, helpful owners who’ll make sure you got what you need.
Goose Island Brewhouse
“We don't want to be the only beer you drink; we just want to be the best beer you drink” — it’s such a self-confident slogan, and we’re feeling it. The beers offered at Goose Island Brewhouse which opened in Yeoksam-dong last month are simply heavenly, letting us almost forget about the high price tags that come with them. At the moment, the menu includes 5 types of drafts, 12 types of bottles and a few non-Goose Island draft beers (mostly from Elysian Brewing Company and Blue Point Brewing Company, both of which are subsidiaries of Anheuser-Busch). There are also beer cocktails and spirits. The food menu (priced at 15,000 won – 23,000 won, except for steaks) includes mac & cheese, beer-battered fried calamari, beef tartare, smoked chicken wings and salads. They’re all no-frills, with quite generous portions. As for space, the brewhouse has a rooftop area and a reservation-only “barrel room,” on top of two spacious floors with table and bar seatings. One of the drafts that are currently available is Goose IPA (5.9% ABV), which is pretty light with subtle fruity notes. There’s nothing insane about it and that’s a great thing, in this case of overall well-balanced beer. If you’re into farmhouse ales, you should go for Sofie (6.5% ABV). Aged in wine barrels with citrus peels, it’s got an almost blissful aroma of elderflower with a hint of coriander and a subtle note of vanilla to finish. Sour, sweet and spicy without any domineering flavor, it’s such a deliciously gentle beer;