Six traditional markets in Seoul
If you're looking for great local street food, you must try these markets.
Eclectic, industrial Seongsu
With Seoul Forest Station in the middle, the residential quarter of Seongsu-dong is to the left of it. Ever since upscale high-rise apartments started being built here in 2011, it has been the district to be in. Starting from 2014, when social venture corporations, social enterprises and young designers started settling here, the neighborhood has taken on a new vibe. The Seongsu-dong that is often mentioned by Korean millennials on social media refers to the area to the right of Seoul Forest Station. It’s one of the few semiindustrial areas left in the city and is home to a wide spectrum of industries, such as shoe factories, car repair garages and printing houses. Seongsu Handmade Shoe Street is also located here. Recently, this neighborhood has earned another name—“Café Street.” Gallery CO:LUMN, which opened this past May; Orer; and Zagmachi, which has been around for quite a while, have attracted new customers to this neighborhood.
Top 21 outdoor bars in Seoul
There's nothing better than drinking out in the open, on a rooftop or outdoors. Here are the best spots in Seoul for you to enjoy the summer night breeze under the starry sky.
Seoul café guide
Seoul is notorious for being obssessive when it comes to coffee. Get off at any subway stop in the city and you'll find at least a dozen cafés and coffee shops within easy walking distance. As the coffee culture continues to grow in the city, so does the list of chain coffee branches—but like any city, the chains aren't usually the best places to go for a substantial cup of joe. If you're looking to fulfill a gastronomical need beyond your daily caffeine dosage, don't settle for a Starbucks. Move beyond the giant corner-hogging franchises on the main streets, and you'll find your reward in precise pour-overs (called "hand drip" in Korea), perfectly-timed espresso shots, and beautiful, tight cappuccino foam. Keep your eye out for the delectable pastries and breads that many of these shops also sell.
Hearty Korean regional cuisines available in Seoul
For some, these are a story-filled taste of home that they miss especially during holidays. For others, they're delectable and refreshing options that, fortunately, exist within Seoul. Take this holiday to experience the best of Korean cuisine that you haven't explored yet!
Where to drink traditional Korean alcohol in Seoul
There’s a saying in Korean: A single glass of alcohol is worth more than a hundred words. When it comes to the world of traditional Korean alcohol (jeontong-ju), we’d up that number to a thousand. There’s so much history and variety here, and you’ll want to try it all: Moonbaeju, which doesn’t list pear in its ingredients yet somehow manages to exude notes of fresh pear. Hamyang Solsongju, made with pine needles and redolent of the deep mountains. Gosori-sul, brewed from the best Jeju Island millet. In the old days, you’d have to travel deep into the countryside to try these different regional beverages, but these days, thankfully, several venues in Seoul have done the hard work for us. They’re even happy to share their knowledge of traditional alcohol over a glass or two! Whether you like it strong and hard or soft and fragrant, there’s a jeontong-ju for you.
Seoul's libraries are a great spot to read... or just stare out the window.
Cuba, encountered in Seoul
For more than a half century, Cuba has been a country that is rather distant from us in both literal and figurative senses. With the re-established diplomatic relations between the two former Cold War adversaries, however, there are now commercial flights taking off for the Caribbean island from several different states in the U.S. With such political influence, Cuba has become one of the hottest new travel destinations—with celebs taking the islands as a vacation paradise and Chanel setting Havana as the location for its Caribbean-inspired collection. Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Buena Vista Social Club, the Pearl of the Caribbean, Ernest Hemingway's home and the museum dedicated to the legendary author... The words used to describe Cuba are distinctively inspirational and almost overwhelming. While we're far away from the Caribbean island, we found a few ways to compromise our desire… till we're there.
The celebrity owned restaurants in Seoul that you've got to try
From a large entertainment company-owned restaurant and the best of Hong Seok-cheon's creations, to a K-pop star Lim Seul-ong's bar and actor Yoo Ah-in's café. Sure, you might want to visit one of these places for celeb spotting, but they're ones that are actually good.
Listings and reviews (51)
Patio D Hongdae
Patio.D is Hapjeong’s celebrated dog-friendly restaurant. Their Pesto Genovese Pasta (18,000 won) with fresh basil sauce and Lobster Rose Pasta (24,000 won) are their most popular menu items, while the pizza and homemade burgers are also good. Note that the second floor of the restaurant is open to dogs, but the third floor has restrictions. What to look for here in terms of space, however, is the rooftop, where dogs are free to roam. Anyone who’s bringing their dog here is required to have potty pads with them – but if you do forget, you can purchase some at the restaurant. “D” in its name stands for “Dining & Drinking.” Along with various dishes, including salad, pasta, steak and burgers, they have a variety of adult drinks, such as wine, craft beer, fruit beer, gin and vodka. The most popular is the mayakade (mayak means “drug” in Korean) made with vodka and red wine.
Located in Ikseon-dong, Proust is a "scent shop" and tea house. Inside, you'll notice that its one side is the tea house and the other is a place where you can experience scents and even make your own perfume, diffuser and candles. The café menu is quiet simple: royal milk tea (using Assam tea as the base) and Thai milk tea (using condensed milk and black tea infuse with rose scent). Of the 2, the the royal milk tea is more popular, with light, soft and specially sweetened with agave nectar. The iced royal milk tea comes served in a pretty bottle, winning the hearts of many customers. Proust, named after the author of the novel In Search of Lost Time, also created a set menu of tea and Madeleine cookies (in reference to the main character’s act of wetting a Madeleine cookie in the tea and remembering his childhood through the aromas). Like many of the venues in Ikseon-dong, Proust is also built on a renovated hanok, refurbished with white walls and wide windows. With the combination of traditional architecture, some DIY personalized fragrances and a nice warm cup of tea, this place offers an interesting hangout spot in the center of the city.
D.Solution Plus, an interior design and construction company created this place and they (obviously) paid extra attention to its interior design. From 8am to 6pm, it’s operated as a café but when the clock strikes 6, the place turns into a bar until 2am. They simply move the coffee menu behind their counter and, magically, whisky bottles appear. They have a large table for eight out on the terrace, which has walls made of bamboo trees. When it rains, the sound of raindrops falling on the glass ceiling of the rooftop makes the atmosphere here extra unique.
Once upon a time, there was a place called Platoon Kunsthalle. For those who were still mourning the demise of the former creative hub, the Platoon team was back last year as Platoon Sonnendeck in the heart of Itaewon. The venue, with floor-to-ceiling glass walls, a motorized roof and generous grassy areas—albeit artificial—was arguably one of the hippest spots in Seoul last summer. Now with a changed operating team (and the different name, obviously), G-15 Sonnendeck offers a space to properly chill out in the signature beanbags, sipping on cocktails and beer. Unfortunately, while some of its program formats including the flea markets still exist along with the relaxed and calm daytime vibe on the roof, doesn't seem to live up to its promise. I mean, without the eclectic mix of patrons and resident DJ's which put the place on the map in the first place, things can't be the same, you know?
The 100 Foodtruck
The 100 Food Truck is well known for having started the rooftop trend across Haebangchon. Although it still retains the title, the charming neighborhood spot has since moved to a new location, just two buildings down from the former venue. The new 100 Food Truck is not just larger in scale; it features a fresh rooftop offering a spectacular view of HBC's intertwining narrow alleyways and old houses day and night. With a picturesque, almost surreal-looking landscape, it's possibly one of the best you can find in the entire city. While the rooftop may easily lead you to think the look is all that this place is about, the food cooked up at the kitchen's surprisingly good. The 100 Burger made with 180g of hanwoo beef has a juicy and tender patty which makes it easily one of the best burgers in Seoul. There are also 7 types of interesting salads including the roasted lemon and the arugula cream cheese which are quite exciting. The only thing you might want to stay away from here is (unfortunately) the truffle oil fries which comes with the price tag of 10,900 won; the serving is way too small, and we'd say you're not missing out on anything as long as you know where McDonald's is located. Nevertheless, Their burgers are well worth the wons and now with the onset of summer, enjoying it on the rooftop will be just so, so satisfying.
On the first floor is a bistro serving Italian cuisine, on the second bar is a bar and the third floor is reserved for a rooftop café and bar. Among the three, the rooftop is arguably the most popular, and if you want to get a table there, you’ve got to arrive before 7pm and even earlier on weekends since they don’t take reservations. If you are finally lucky enough to catch a table for some drinks and side dishes, you’ll soon realize that the menu mainly offers cocktails and whisky. Oriole is a single malt whisky bar. The price level is on the higher end of things—like, Cheongdam-dong high. Surprising, considering that it’s in Haebangchon. Cocktails are usually 16,000 won and there are no beers on the menu. You can order bottles of wine though. So you can’t have a cold beer or a glass of wine early in the evening here. Then what about their side dishes? I’m sorry to break it to you, but they weren’t great. The view was awesome, but the mood was ruined. Here’s my suggestion. If you want to have some cocktails or whisky, come here after a pre-drink and don’t bother ordering food. I’m saying this in case you had planned to go before 7pm, on an empty stomach.
Poetic Bar 시집
This wine bar opened in Ikseondong, one of the hippest areas in Seoul these days. It’s actually more of a pocha (tent street bar) than a regular bar and the owner says he wanted to create a space where you can drink affordable, quality wine. What makes this bar more interesting is the variety of people frequenting it. Thanks to all the gay bars in the vicinity that have been around before the neighborhood started to get popular, stylish gays pay a visit to have wine and chat. As there are a number of guesthouses and hotels in the area, laid back foreign tourists are spotted quite often as well. It’s like a street café in the alleys of Barcelona or Bangkok. If you want to drink wine in a mysterious atmosphere in the center of Seoul, head here ASAP!
Four Seasons Hotel Seoul Garden Terrace
The Garden Terrace on the 15th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel has reopened its doors. As the buildings surrounding Gwanghwamun are not too high, the view you get of Bugaksan Mountain sitting at the end of the city is just phenomenal. Following the trend of Chimac here in Korea, the menu offered is Beer & Burger. There are a total of 5 different burgers on the menu along with a collection of craft beers to choose from. These include the ‘Austin Texas Smoke House Burger’ (made with Australian beef patties, cheddar cheese, smoky bacon, crispy onions and BBQ sauce), the ‘Marrakesh Lamb Burger’ (made with lamb patties and Greece style Tzatziki), the ‘Seoul Burger’ (made with Kimchi buns, Samgyeopsal patties and Korean style BBQ sauce), the ‘Classic Burger’ (made with beef patties, lettuce, cheddar cheese and mustard) and last but not least, the ‘3 Mini Burger Set’ (a selection of the 4 burgers). Other menu items include barbeque pork ribs and vegetables, homemade sausages and even spicy buffalo wings. All the craft beer will be provided by Korea’s very own The Hand and Malt brewing company. From their Slow IPA to Belgian Witbier and even Apple Cider, The Hand and Malts selection of refreshing drinks will go beautifully with Garden Terrace’s burgers. Craft beers will begin at 10,000 won while each burger has a price point of 28,000 won. The Beer & Burger specials will be offered every Wednesday through Saturday until the start of autumn. If you were looking for a classy alternativ
Le Style Restaurant & Bar
We all know that the good things in life are the hardest to get, as is the case for this rooftop bar. Loved by many Seoulites, the 21st floor of the Ibis Styles Ambassador Hotel in Myeongdong serves as a bar with limited seating, making reservations a must. Le Style's special dinner deal offered until 10pm with a price tag of 58,000 won comes with: barbecue plates for two, unlimited draft beer, plus an array of appetizers and hot dishes laid out in a buffet style. If you're intending to go just for drinks, expect entrance after 10pm. A bottle of La Mision Reserva Chardonnay Del Clarillo, a Chilean wine, is priced at 60,000 won. Beer and whisky are offered in individual glasses. This swanky yet cozy bar surrounded by a distant view of N Seoul Tower is definitely worth checking out.
Way Better Grill and Garden
The alley next to Hannam-dong’s Harley Davidson dealer leads you to the black gate of a two-story residential building. There’s no need to be skeptical of whether it’s someone’s home or a restaurant because as you get closer, you’ll know what it is by the beautiful outdoor area. Its only been open about two weeks and it offers up a barbecue buffet and alcohol. Top blade steak, pork neck steak and spicy pork ribs are just some of the meats you can nosh on as part of their all-you-can-eat buffet. The abundance of nature will make it seem like you’re not in Seoul.
White Bear Craft Beer Pub
It’s easy to miss this renovated white residential building, as the outdoor area is bustling with people. This place offers two concepts, the White Bear Makgeolli Bar & Brewery occupies the 1st and 2nd floors while the basement and outdoor area house the White Bear Craft Beer Pub. Interestingly, the venue has a strict policy of not sharing menus between the two bars, making you choose between the two types of alcohol before you head in. The pub doesn’t brew its own beer; instead it works more like a beer multi-shop (as is the case with the makgeolli bar). They choose locally brewed quality beer and makgeolli to serve customers. The beer selection includes IPA, dark ale, pilsner and weizen. When you get bored of drinking beer outside, walk (or stumble) up to the 2nd floor and get some makgeolli into your system!
The Hand and Malt Brewing Company Tab Room
This is a special beer spot where you can sit on a terrace with ample sofas. Behind the sofas, trees provide a garden-like feeling. Drinking fragrant craft beer in this wonderful setting might give a sense of freedom. This Shinchonbased bar is directly managed by The Hand and Malt Brewing Company and offers a variety of their beers from Namyangju. Their Slow IPA with a refreshing taste of tangerine is the most popular beverage, but you can also try out special beers like Sujeonggwa Red Ale, which tastes like sujeonggwa fruit punch (traditional fruit punch made from dried persimmon, cinnamon and ginger).
Independent Underground Radio. Made in Seoul.
Seoul Community Radio is an online underground music channel that makes it possible for both Korean and international audiences to check out talented underground musicians. A live stream from its Itaewon studio is available via seoulcommunityradio.com. Tune int to hear clandestine DJs working the turntables during the week at 6pm.
City Stories: Jeong Ok-sun
PHOTO: PARK JUNG-WOO Jeong Ok-sun (Yakult saleswoman in Sangam-dong) How long have you been in this line of work?It's been almost two years. I'm a manager of a Yakult branch in Sangam-dong, Mapo-gu. Lots of people get excited to see you, don't they?Very excited to see us, indeed. Some run at me saying, “Ajumma, I've finally found you!” What lots of people want to get from me these days are Cold Brew coffee and Kiri cream cheese. I run out of stock so quickly. Which one's more popular?Currently, Cold Brew coffee. You know how lots of Koreans drink more than one cupof coffee these days. I remember singing this, sort of children's folk verse, that goes: “Yakult lady, give me some Yakult please.” Do you know if kids these days do the same?Kids still do sing that song! I respond to them: “Yakult isn’t ours, Yakult is yours.” [laughs] The carts used to be all manual, pull-and-push. Are these new electric ones provided by the company?Technically, we rent it from the company. There's a security deposit we pay in order to rent one. What does it feel like to ride the electric carts?It’s a lot of fun. Some customers ask me if they could have a ride on it. Unfortunately, that’s not allowed. I’ve been riding it around for about two years now, and it's kind of like driving a car. At first I thought it was pretty fast, but now I feel it’s slow. [laughs] The maximum speed is 8km/h. It’s powerful enough to handle both uphill and downhill slopes. Have you encountered interesting moments
다양한 문화가 공존하는 스튜디오. 서울에서 만들어진 새로움.
서울 커뮤니티 라디오(SCR)는 한국의 언더그라운드 음악을 지지하는 인터넷 방송 채널이다. 이들의 목표는 한국 언더그라운드의 재능 있는 아티스트들을 국내뿐 아니라 세계 각국의 청취자에게 소개하는 것. 홈페이지 (seoulcommunityradio.com)를 통해 평일 오후 6시부터 서울의 숨겨진 디제이들의 디제잉을 직접 듣고 볼 수 있다.
City stories: Seo Hye-min
Photo: Seo Hye-min Seo Hye-min (Bangi-dong, bride-to-be) How did you know he’s the one?I thought there would be some moment when I would know for sure, but it hasn't come yet. Perhaps, I'll always wonder if he's “the one.” Sometimes, I wonder if I made the right choice, but no matter how much I think about it, I think I would make the same choice again in any lifetime. There's no one else in the world that understands me like he does and I never grow tired of him. How did he propose?My husband had told me that we spent so much money on the wedding that there wasn’t much left over to have a special proposal event. I didn’t really expect anything but when we went to take our wedding photos in Jeju, we stood in an open green field and he suddenly got down on one knee with the ring and asked me to marry him. Truth be told, we had already picked out the ring so I thought: “Is this man really going to do the proposal like this?” But now that I think back on it, it’s a lovely memory. Not bad at all. When are you getting married?On Saturday June 4th, at the office building of NCSOFT in Pangyo. I first didn't like the idea of getting married at an office building, but it's prettier than I thought. Is it expensive to get married?Yes, quite a lot [but it saves a lot of money to get married at an office building]. If you go to a regular wedding hall, you usually have to pay at least 3 million won, but here, the venue is free [since it’s free for the people who work there, like my husban
Save the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF)
In September 2014, the Busan International Film Festival made a controversial decision to screen the documentary Diving Bell (2014) against Busan City government’s wishes. The Diving Bell discussed in detail the sinking of the Sewol ferry, an incident many believed the government should be held accountable for. The film festival’s decision to screen the documentary came with a slew of repercussions—the first of which included cutbacks in government funding. The mayor of Busan, Suh Byung-soo, has also stepped down from his role as the festival’s chairman and the Busan City government is pushing for the resignation of Lee Yong Kwan, co-executive director of the BIFF secretariat, at the end of his contract in March. (Lee is also being sued for allegedly misusing the city’s funds for the festival). Many believe that this is the government’s way of bullying the festival into censoring its films and a campaign called “Save BIFF” is currently making headlines in film magazines all over the country. Famous Korean filmmakers; the Cannes, Berlin, Venice and Rotterdam International Film Festivals; and other well-reputed figures in the international movie industry have spoken out with concerns stating that the freedom of expression and independence of a film festival must be protected.