Buam-dong

Buamdong

This weekend Seoul Secrets took a trip to the countryside without leaving Seoul, how is that possible you may ask? Well we’re going to explain how, this small and quaint countryside area goes by the name of Buam-dong.

Buam-dong is a neighbourhood of Jongno-gu, and resides in the north of the city just a short bus ride from the hustle and bustle, and tourist laden Gyeongbokgung Palace. Nestled between Inwangsan and Bukhansan mountains it offers picturesque views, lush greenery and an escape from the fast pace of city life. Add to its natural beauty a mix of hidden galleries, bakeries and unique craft stores makes for a spot you shouldn’t miss during your time in Seoul.

To get to this neighbourhood take the subway to Gyeongbokgung Station (line 3) and take exit 3. Walk straight about 100 metres and look for the second bus stop (not the shuttle bus stop). Here take a green bus either #1020 or #7022 for six stops to Buam-dong Community Service Center, the announcement will be made in English so listen out for it. The bus journey will take no longer than 10 minutes.

When you arrive here our best advice is to just explore! Stroll around the peaceful neighbourhood and take in its natural beauty as well as some very interesting architecture. The main town area is based off one large main road with a few alleyways branching off here and there.

 

When you get off the bus you will be on the hill at top of the town, stroll down and on your left you will come across some interesting stores, we spoke with a few of the store owners to get an insight into their businesses and life in Buam-dong.

scoff

The first place that really grabbed our eye and more importantly our sense of smell was ‘Scoff’. The smell of freshly baked goods enticed us into this small yet impressive bakery. The word scoff to many would mean to sneer or mock someone, but to British people the verb to scoff means to eat fast, which you often do when something is so delicious you cant resist but to shove it in your mouth.

Opened for two years now by James Townsend, a British expat living and working here as a chef. It humbly began from living close to this area in Anguk. Regular trips with his partner to escape the busy life of Seoul and enjoy this neighbourhood lead to them one day spotting an vacant building and they saw an opportunity to be had. Come check this place out for baked goods like no other, and to awaken your taste buds!

ulmuga

Just a few minutes down the road you’ll find 우물가 으낭나무, which translates as the eunang tree near the well. You can’t miss it’s bright yellow and primary colour façade, inside you’ll find a range of hand crafted goods made on the premises. With many years of experience and five years at this location Hyunghoon Lee has honed and refined his design and crafting skills using a mixture of media such as bronze, silver and gemstones. His work ranges from candle holders to silver and bronze jewellery as well traditional style Korean stamps. Check out some of his work below:

 

If you head back up the hill towards the bus stop you arrived at, keeping walking and take a right following the smell of fried chicken, you’ll come across a road that slowly climbs the hill side. On the way you’ll pass two fried chicken places that are quite famous and often full with a queue of people waiting. It looked and smelt really good!

As you continue to climb there will be galleries and cafes along the way.

space 291

Eventually you will see ‘Space 291’ gallery,  you cant miss the yellow cartoon creature greeting you at the entrance. Space 291 is an exhibition space offering artists or photographers a place to show their work. The current exhibition is by photographer Yoo Son Young. After the passing of her late father she took a trip back to the farming community of where she was born, on arrival everything reminded her of her father. But nothing more so than her fathers yellow working box, used when out in the fruit orchards. This was what inspired her to produce this exhibition.

In the downstairs area the cooperative that runs this space helps support new upcoming artists exhibit their work.

For more information:

http://space291.com/

After you leave the gallery and continue up the hill there are more interesting places along the way, one being a gallery and fusion Italian restaurant called Art For Life. Owned and run by a rather eccentric character in Sung Pil Kwan, a music professor and keen photographer you should check this place out! (the green space and restaurant pictured below)

Further at the top of the hill are some more famous cafes and photo opportunity spots. Buam-dong is great for avid photographers or even those looking for a memorable travel selfie. Come here and explore in relative peace!

One of the famous cafes mentioned is Sanmotoonge:

ice tea with a view ☀️

A post shared by David N. (@davidignaz) on

 

We would like to give a huge thank you and attribute this great suggested spot down to Mr Dan Deacon, it was well and truly worth the visit! Enjoy!

Seoul Secrets

*Also a big thank you to Faith Wright who commented on our Facebook page about Sanmotoonge cafe. Whilst blogging our camera died and was unable to take any pictures. So we focused on the other great places in Buam-dong!

 

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Yeonnam-dong: Yeontral Park

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‘Yeontral Park’ is the name used amongst many young Koreans to describe the Gyeongui Line Forest Park located in the neighborhood of Yeonnamdong. Coined as a play on words and in homage to Central Park in New York, it may not be as vast or as famous as its American cousin, but it is a pleasant green space among the large concrete jungle that is Seoul. As well as being a pleasant place to take a stroll, this neighborhood is in the middle of a boom of new businesses including craft stores, countless coffee shops and unique new restaurants.

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Located straight out of Exit 3 at Hongik University station, it’s easy to reach and often missed by many expats who take the standard exit 9 route into Hongdae with a b-line for the playground area, where for a long time many foreigners have congregated to socialize. But this park area just on the border of Hongdae offers a new side and a much more relaxed environment to hangout with friends.

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As you walk down the park the first port of call should be the bottle shop ‘Beer Super’ on your left hand side. With two wooden barrels outside a brown exterior you can’t miss it, and you’ll find a great range of imported beers from all around the world. Here you can enjoy of one the many perks of Seoul which is drinking in public! If alcohol isn’t for you don’t be perturbed as there are many other types of drinks available further down the park.

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If you’re looking for somewhere to eat around the park look no further than Jil’Hal Bros. Quite well known within the expat community this small yellow and red hole in the wall offers the best chicken and lamb over rice in Seoul. Really easy to find, just keep walking down the park and take a left at the GS25 and you’ll see it just in front of you on the right. The park is a great place to enjoy food, beers and great company during the evenings or a place to settle down with a picnic for a lazy Sunday brunch.

The park is a 1.3km long green belt of urban forest, with the rusted remains of the old railway tracks sprouting up as you meander down the well kept grass area and flowing stream. Flanked with many restaurants and cafes, this neighborhood is also home to a large community of hostels which gives a real holiday vibe. Halfway down the park you’ll see a GS25 on your right, if you take that road and then a left onto the road running parallel to the park you will find a street lined with an array of ground floor stores offering an eclectic range of goods and services.

Dalsang cafe

At the top of the park is the head of the stream and a small seating area, if you take a right up a small side street you’ll see small buildings covered in newly painted graffiti, hidden amongst the colourful buildings is a real diamond in the rough, only opening last week Dalsang coffee shop offers a great range of hand dripped coffees, with a great peaceful roof terrace on a sunny spring day…a real Seoul Secret!

Check out Yeontral Park now while the cool spring weather is still here.

 

This article was originally written for and featured on Groove Magazine online, to see the original post and find out more about Seoul Secrets beginning follow the the link below:

The rise of Yeontral Park

 

 

 

 

Mullae-dong: Street art

mullaedong

This weekend Seoul Secrets took a trip to the art infused industrial neighbourhood of Mullae-dong. A unique neighbourhood that has a heart of steel fabrication with an injection of artistic flair and yet a strange harmonious existence. This transformation from being just an industrial district to an artists refuge began around 2005. This was when artists began setting up studios in the empty spaces between the foundries. Most of these artists were looking for new studios to hone their skills, as rent prices increased in Hongdae, left many artists looking for a new home. This was when the migration across the river to Yeongdeungpo-gu began, and the start of this unique relationship.

To get here take the Subway to Mullae on Line 2 (green line) and exit 7. Head left out of the exit and continue working till you are greeted by an iron giraffe, this signals you’re on the right path. Behind the giraffe is what looks like a former information booth and a sign the directs you to go left. For everywhere featured in today’s post check the map above for its location.

The first thing you will notice it’s still very much a fully working neighbourhood, even on the weekend the air was filled with metal work fumes, the sound of metal clanking and sparks flying. From here there is a warren of side streets and workshops, with cafes and studios all together ready to be explored!

Depending when you come here will surely change the atmosphere. On the bright warm day we were here, it was as if even the steel works were part of the art. You’ll find unique geometric formations and workshops full of machinery. The workers continue toiling away and are kind of oblivious to your presence, which makes you feel more a spectator of this remarkable neighbourhood.

 

jo

The first featured place is ‘Jo’ jewellery, across the main road near to the intersection up the alley on the right hand side. A jewellery store that specialises in handmade silver and gemstone pieces. Designed and crafted here in her studio 조새미  has been here for just over one year, after moving from Yeonhui-dong. With eight years experience she produces singular pieces, in all types of styles for any occasion.

To see more of her work check out: http://blog.naver.com/cucurono

cafe about

After wandering the streets you’ll need somewhere to wet your whistle, and rest your feet. look no further than ‘Cafe About’, located just off the main road back towards the subway exit, look for this art work as a guide:

Cafe About offers a great range of coffees and other beverages, as well as pleasant a range of panini sets in an artsy environment. The decor has artwork from Che Jin Suk , consisting of mixed media canvas’s with a changing light effect. Che Jin Suk is a lecturer at Beakseok University in media and visual art.

To see more of Che Jin Suk’s work check out:

http://chejinsuk.wix.com/chejinsuk

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If you’re after something a little stronger than coffee then look no further than 차차, a beer and wine bistro that also sells coffee during the day, can be found on the same main road as the the subway and just around the corner from Cafe About. A great spot to people watch and let the world pass you by.

Go check it out! have fun!

Seoul Secrets

 

Ikseondong

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This week Seoul Secrets took a trip to Ikseondong, Seoul’s oldest hanok neighbourhood slap bang in the centre of Seoul. Hidden and almost forgotten, this neighbourhood is finding its vibe once again. The best preserved and least renovated neighbourhood of these Korean style homes, its a maze of tiles and pavement intertwined with new cafes, bars and cultural spaces.

Built in the early 1930’s as one of the first large scale hanok developments, aiming to accommodate those on a financial budget lead to the construction of these small yet humble dwellings. Maybe not as vast or as impressive in grandeur as say Bukchon’s or Seochon’s hanoks, these ones are still just as charming. After becoming dwarfed by huge high rising building developments during Seoul’s post war recovery, Ikseondong is a reminder of times gone by and offers a window into Seoul’s past with a twist. Thanks to low rental costs a wave of artsy cafes and stores have emerged, giving this old neighbourhood a fresh new feel.

To get here take Exit 4 of Jongno sam ga subway station, cross the road and follow the images below:

 

charm

The first thing you notice when you arrive here is that it is still very much a lived in neighbourhood that hasn’t just given way to the new wave of commerce. At Seoul Secrets we usually give a structured and guided route of the areas we check out, but the fun thing about this place is exploring down the back alleys and side streets. As you stumble down narrow alleyways you will see huddles of hanoks that have an authentic character, and unintended charm. Mixing this with a sprinkling of artistic flair, that has been added of late makes for an area they shouldn’t be missed…don’t forget your camera!

stores

The neighbourhood seems to be split with the western side home to more crafts and vintage style stores, and eastern side more korean barbecue places and residential homes. The weekend Seoul Secrets visited just so happened to be the same time as a small crafts stall market. Selling all kinds of handmade delights ranging from baked goods, soaps and incense to even tarot card readings. After speaking with a few of the stall owners it seems these markets happen from time to time but couldn’t find out exactly how often or if it’s a consistent thing.

This neighbourhood boasts many cafes and restaurant, too many to all feature on this blog post. So we decided to leave the experimenting up to you and just picked one to feature, one of many delightful places worth checking out. It’s all worth noting that many of the restaurants close between 3-5pm, and there will be queues forming outside some of them from 4.30pm.

ikdongbang

This is truly a diamond in the rough, just off the many alleyway you took from Exit 4. As you walk up the alleyway and begin to see commercial type hanoks, you will see a metal yellow lightening bolt looking sign. Follow this bright yellow sign down a small and narrow path you’ll be greeted by this inviting courtyard area. Ikdongdabang looks like something out of Narnia with its lush green plants and delicately renovated hanok. This cafe offers a range of teas and coffees, but their specialities are their strawberry and cream scones accompanied with a strawberry latte. A delightful place to sit, relax and get lost in your thoughts.

Go! Explore! Get lost!…take pictures along the way! Enjoy!

Seoul Secrets