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Eclectic, industrial Seongsu

If you carefully explore the area between Seongsu Station and Ttukseom Station, you might discover your new favorite hang out spot when you least expect to.

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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.

Eat & Drink

or.er

This café is Zagmachi’s second branch, and it opened this May. People in the neighborhood are almost amazed by the young, well-dressed groups of people who visit this spot. Orer’s wooden furniture, curtains and wallpaper somehow make the café look like a home from the ‘70s or ‘80s. But Orer’s greatest appeal is its garden. A team of staff, who used to work for Aus Petits Verres, a famous tart place in Seochon, is in charge of creating the café’s desserts, which are sublime. Now that the heat of summer has somewhat abated, you can enjoy coffee and cake in their garden, whilst listening to classical music. At the moment, the basement of the building is serving as a gallery and the first floor as a café. There are plans to host exhibitions, speeches and seminars on the second floor in the near future.

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Seongdong-gu

Jaeju Siktak

The owner of the restaurant enjoys scuba diving and carries some serious love for Jeju in her heart. Located in an arcade next to an apartment complex, and away from the bustling industrial areas of Seongsu-dong, it is a simple, comfy curry eatery. She first started her business when she started selling her curry at Bellongjang Market while she was staying in Jeju, and her friends recommended that she sell it. Spicy cheongyang littleneck clam curry, which has stayed on the menu since its non-commercial inception, is what she often made for her friends as a hangover dish after a night of drinking. The owner humbly said that she was surprised to see her curry sell out so quickly at the market. Once you taste her dishes, you’ll understand why her friends told her that she should sell her food.

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Seongdong-gu

CO:LUMN

During the early ‘70s, this place was a rice mill, and in 1990, it was storage space. This past May, CO:LUMN opened as a gallery/café without any changes being made to the building’s exterior. This old, red-brick building has its own unique vibe. As you enter through the large, heavy doors, you’ll pass by Yang Jeong-uk’s works that look like the skeletons of huge animals from the ice age, after which you’ll step into a wide open space. The ceiling beams are exposed and the hall, which is always packed with people, is surrounded by rough, grey walls. The sunlight that streams down from above combined with the trees planted inside make the whole space feel rather surreal. I recommend that you soak in the ambiance whilst enjoying a cup of coffee or a pint of beer. On weekends, there’s an entrance fee of 10,000, which includes one drink.

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Amazing Brewing Company

This brewpub makes and sells beer from inside a renovated wooden building that was built in 1959. They have 59 tabs in total—five are for the beers brewed here and the rest are for the ones from other breweries. The Amazing Brewing Company opens at 12pm and they pay special attention to their food as well, as is evidenced by their brussels sprouts that are served with balsamic vinegar sauce, onion and bacon. What does all of this mean for those of use here in Korea? That it’s a great place to get some day drinking done.

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Seongdong-gu

Zagmachi

This is the spot that started all the changes in Seongsudong. Zagmachi fulfilled its goal to attract people from both inside and outside the neighborhood. The café still uses the cabinets from the old publishing house that used to be housed here, and they made their own red and blue tables and chairs. Fresh and dry flowers as well as unique lightings give this locale an extra cozy feel, and the large, comfy chairs are perfect for those who need to get some work done on their laptops. It also offers cultural events, like exhibitions and lectures, such as “Customer’s Stuff,” where customers share stories related to their profession.

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Lamina

Ever wanted to have a photo you took with your DSLR printed in professional quality, perfectly framed and hung on that empty wall of yours? Hidden in the factory district of Seongsu-dong, Lamina (from the word laminate) is best described as a private printing and framing workshop, and is actually providing services to many local photographers. Opening the large iron doors, you will be mesmerized by the sound and smell of a woodshop. It is recommended you take a quick walk to see the inner workings before heading up to the showroom on the third floor. The company first ventured out with their frameless picture frames which have now become their specialty. Customers can bring in their digital files, choose from a variety of paper and high-grade acrylic (both from domestic and foreign manufacturers) all available in the showroom, and have their frameless frame created in whichever size they desire. As Lamina mainly caters to large brands and photographers, they won’t be providing any photo editing services, so make sure you bring in the perfect shot. The showroom is also a space to purchase pre ‘frameless’ framed pictures with friendly prices starting from 50,000 won. Although this part of the company is different (named Arty Goodthing), they work under the same roof and is operated by the same director. As the director has worked with respected Korean photographers (including Kim Jung-man, An Woong-chul and fashion photographer Park Kyung-il among others), it will be a chance

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Seongdong-gu

Reike nen

Yoon Hong-mi, who used to work as a shoe designer at Handsome, launched this handmade shoe brand in 2010. Reike Nen’s shoes have simple and soft lines without overly flashy decorations or colors, which means that they go well with any outfit. The soles of the shoes match their overall designs and you can have your shoes custom made. Their shoes are more than just attractive—they are comfortable.

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Salondeju

SALONDEJU, launched in 2014, is a shoe brand for women led by designer Ahn Seong-ju. They sell their products online as well, but this showroom is the only place where you can actually try on their footwear. They are famous for reinterpreting classic styles in modern ways, such as red or teal shoes that are designed in a simple and feminine manner. As the products are made to order, it takes about two weeks for them to be ready.

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Seongdong-gu
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An insider's talk

Ahn Seong-ju

Ahn Seong-ju

There are a lot of shoe and leather factories in Seongsu-dong. Since I design shoes, I visited here often, even before I opened a showroom in the neighborhood. I believe that the atmosphere of the area has gotten younger, as I see more and more young people and cafés.

Lee Su-hyeon

Lee Su-hyeon

I first came here because my friend told me that there are a lot of pretty cafés here. I was attracted to or.er the most because I heard that it was like a garden. Because it’s named Café Street, I thought the cafés were lined up on one street. It’s interesting to see a café like this hidden between the alleys and arcades. I would love to come here with my mom, and I like that it is not too crowded during the week.

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