T'is the season to stay indoors to keep yourself nice a dry. Yes, Seoul's monsoon season has started and that means most of us will likely be staying in during the weekends. But, it doesn't always have to be that way, as there are a few places around town that are in fact better to visit when massive dark clouds let loose.
Seung Hyo-sang, the first appointed City Architect of Seoul, considers Jongmyo Shrine as an emblem of Korean architecture for its philosophical and spiritual foundation: “It expresses the Korean view of death, that the souls of the dead do not disappear but interact continually with the land of the living. Perhaps, that's the reason why the austere 117 meter-long rectangular building has the power to plunge us living souls into a long and reverent silence. It is both an immortal work of architecture—in which form and content are fused as one—and an eternal hometown that gratifies the instinctive desire to return from whence we came. Naturally, Jongmyo also depicts the architectural aesthetic of emptiness, for its core is a spacious yard.” Jongmyo is a royal Confucian shrine dedicated to the forefathers of Joseon Dynasty. Originally constructed during the 14th century, the shrine was rebuilt and expanded in the 17th century after its destruction in the 16th century during the Japanese invasion. Reflecting the traditional feng shui principles, the site includes a depressed yard located at front of the main hall serving as a designated area where living and the dead spiritually coexist. To this day, the biggest ritual of the 18th-century Korea continues at this sacred shrine. The descendants of the House of Yi, which was the last clan to rule during the Joseon Dynasty, continue to follow the traditions of their imperial ancestors. As such, they take it as their duty to perform
Well known for its simple designs and fresh coffee, Alex the Coffee is no stranger to the café industry. The Yongin location, from where the beans are brought daily, was awarded the Red Dot Design Award in 2013 for its ability to “convey the authenticity of the coffee,” and the Seongbuk-dong location, which opened late last year, doesn’t fall far from the tree. After ordering coffee from the first floor, you can take your drink to any spot on the second floor that’s available. While the menu has your typical Americano, there are slightly more interesting options such as the Alexano, the Fat Americano and the White Blanc. Lounge jazz music plays throughout the café and a portion of the seating area on the second floor resembles a greenhouse. Having an ice coffee in the café’s outdoor space during the summer could be killer, but we were warned that there are already lines out the door every weekend.
This French restaurant sits on the top floor of the famous In Space building located near Changdeokgung Palace. The view up at Dining in Space surrounded by 3 full-wall windows is, accordingly, magnificent: on the right, you'll see the prominent architect Kim Swoo-geun's private space (which now is known as Arario Museum), and the beautiful palace on the left side. The food served here is modern French based on the classic. Having worked at Cheongdam's Palais de Gaumont and La Saison of Sinsa, chef No Jin-seong elegantly puts out a single, focused course comprised of seasonal ingredients. The presentation, along with delicate tastes, are exquisite. With its reservation-only policy, patrons at Dining in Space also enjoy individualized choices for ingredients that accommodate their needs and preferences. * Fully booked on Feb. 14th