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.
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!
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.
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:
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:
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!
*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!