Sookmyung Women’s University Area

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This week Seoul Secrets took a trip to Sookmyung Women’s University area in Yongsan-gu. As with many university areas in Seoul, there’s a certain vibrancy and community of young students who need places to study. This leads to the surrounding area being a hive of coffee shops and cafes with free WiFi and open all hours of the day, all for reasonable prices.

Sookmyung Women’s University was Korea’s first royal private education institution for women in Korea, founded in 1906 upon the hillside next to Hyochang Park. The name Sookmyung comes from the ancient symbols meaning ‘elegant’ and ‘bright’.

The campus has a mix of older more traditional buildings and more modern architecture, with some decadent flowery park areas thrown into the mix, This creates a rather pleasant place to sit, relax and chat with friends.

To get here take the subway line 4 (light blue line) to Sookmyung Women’s Univ stop and take exit 10.

At the top of the hill you will find the university and its surrounding campus:

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If you continue to walk up the hill past the University, you’ll find Hyochang Park:

 

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Hyochang Park is where Korean royal family members used to be buried. In 1940 the then ruling Japanese converted it into a park. When Korea fought back for independence the bodies of Korean revolutionary members were buried here, and a shrine built to remember their sacrifice for their country. Today the park is an excellent maze of walking trials, picnic areas and some points of interest.

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If you head back towards the Sookmyung University, the hill leading up is lined with all the coffee shops and cafes you can imagine. With all the generic coffee shops from International chains to your Korean based chains, here you can find a unique cafe half way up the hill unlike any other called ‘Blind Alley’.

blind alley

Blind Alley is a raccoon cafe! Move over cats and dog cafes here is coffee shop filled with cheeky little critters to play with whilst sipping on a coffee. Offering reasonable prices and some great bingsu, handlers will bring you a baby raccoon to cuddle with and spend some time with your friends.

The larger raccoons are kept in a separate section, with bedding and play equipment. Obviously there are rules to follow for your own safety and that of the animals. (They also have a puppy called ‘Cookie’ who is incredibly cute)

If animal themed cafes aren’t your kind of thing then have no fear! Continue walking down the hill take a left at ‘Watsons’ and walk up that hill.

 

HB

Hue Blanc Cafe Lounge specialises in delicious homemade desserts, as well as some great drinks all in a trendy and relaxed environment. A franchise with other locations throughout Seoul and Daegu, with each specialising in different areas. This branch focuses is the desserts from chocolate cake, tiramisu and cheesecake.

One of the most popular drinks here is the ‘Cube Latte’ which arrives as a glass of iced espresso cubes and a jug of honey milk. Slowly pour the honey milk over the coffee cubes and watch the coffee infuse with the milk to create a delicious coffee concoction.

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For more info check out:

https://www.instagram.com/hueblanc_sookmyung/

burger in

If you’re looking for somewhere to grab a reasonable priced burger, look no further than Burger In! With an unassuming entrance to a basement, the smell of beef patties grilling greets you as descend into the restaurant. Offering a range of burgers and fries all for reasonable prices, fresh and well cooked with a great balance of taste.

For the location check out:

https://www.instagram.com/explore/locations/933578678/

Go check this place out!

Seoul Secrets

 

 

 

 

 

Location:

https://www.instagram.com/explore/locations/933578678/

 

 

 

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Samcheongdong

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Samcheongdong is a trendy neighbourhood of cafes, restaurants and boutique shops in Jongno-gu in northern Seoul. Part of Bukchon just east of the Gyeongbokgung Palace, it attracts many tourist and is far from a ‘secret’, but Seoul Secrets felt it was a place that cannot be missed when visiting Seoul and wanted to check it out!

The name ‘Samcheong’ comes from the word ‘sam’ meaning three and ‘Cheong’ meaning ‘fresh’ or ‘pure’ in Korean. So what does ‘three pure’ stand for you may wonder, well they say it’s because the mountain, water and hearts of the people in this area are all fresh and pure.

An artistic neighbourhood covered in wall art graffiti and made up of some really interesting architecture, even if shopping isn’t your thing you should still come here to just take in the surroundings. As mentioned it can attract a large crowd of tourists at times so we’d suggest coming here earlier in the day if you’d prefer to browse in relative peace before the rush begins.

 

Directions:

To get here take Subway Line 3 (orange line) to Anguk Station, take Exit 1.

Turn right out of the exit and walk to the end of street, here you’ll pass a bank on your right, keep following the road to the right. Here you’ll see narrow stone wall lined road, follow that road. The follow the pictures above for advice.

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As you navigate your way up through Samcheongdong, you’ll come across this ‘5 dollar’ store. This places only sells things up to the value of five dollars or five thousand won, so if your looking for some bargains this is the place for you!

As you continue up Samcheong road you will spot the ‘smiling sun’ mural on your right, if you cross the street here you’ll see a cafe 5cijung, take the small walkway beside here to find our next spot.

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This small hanok building nestled away from the main street is the home to ‘Boutique Kyunsung’. Offering a range of steaks as well as pastas and salads ranging from 15,000 -32,000 won, in the picture above is the Hamburger Steak with kinchi pilaf. Arriving in a sizzling stone bowl filled with a delicious kimchi pilaf with a perfectly cooked hamburger steak topped with two types of cheese. Pictures and words alone cannot do justice for just how good this was…highly recommend checking this place out!

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If you exit here and take a left following the narrow path will lead you here:

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This is one of those places that a picture says a thousand words… Retrona Pie is a bakery cafe that offers a wide range of freshly baked delights all produced on the premises. The most popular from a wide range of pies is the banana crunch (the one in the picture above) as recommend by the owner it did not disappoint. With its green and yellow retro paint job this place would be impossible to walk by without being intrigued, go in and take a look, you won’t regret it!

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As you exit here take a left and you’ll reach back to the main road of Samcheong:

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Seoul Secrets hopes you enjoy your time here and make lots of memories!

Seoul Secrets

Mangwon

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This week Seoul Secrets took a trip to the neighbourhood of Mangwon, situated between the Han river and the more well known Hongdae area. It’s a less artsy and more of a hard living and hard working neighbourhood than Hongdae. It offers a real insight into the day to day life of people in this area, with the main focus around a huge market at one end and the Hangang river park at the other.

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To get here is very simple, just take Exit 2 of Mangwon station on Line 6. Turn to your right as you leave the exit, here you’ll see a road that leads off into the distance and continues cross the main intersection. This road offers some of the most interesting parts of Mangwon. The first place we’re going to checkout is the Mangwon market, as well as a treat along the way.

 

So taking that first right out of the subway exit, walk down the road till you reach’Do dream building’ take a right here to and you’ll see our first secret spot:

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Cafe Bubu is the treat you were waiting for! A fairly large coffee shop with a large welcoming and relax garden entrance. Opened by a web designer and his wife for three years, may have given some inspiration to the name Bubu, which I’m told means ‘Married’ or ‘Marriage’. With a coffee roasting lab in the basement, they offer beans for sale or you can try one of their two signature blends. Either ‘ET’ which is an Ethiopian base or ‘B2’ a Brazilian base both making for a great tasting coffee. One thing about this place is the passion and time dedicated to serving the coffee and making sure its a cup of perfection every time.

Served by both Ami Jeong and Daehan Choi, you’ll be in safe hands, we’d like to thank them for their helpful information as both Mangwon residents themselves they helped suggest other places to check out in this post!

They also feature some live music from time to time! (made and performed by Ami Jeong)

Check out:

 

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Here at Mangwon Market is an endless warren of all the market stalls you can imagine, as there is no large supermarkets within close proximity this market is the go to place for the majority of residents here.

As you walk the main stretch of the market you’ll see a few cup fried chicken places:

These stalls are a main attraction for many as they offer more flavours than your average cup chicken stall. Here you can try an array of flavors from, spicy, sweet, cheese, chilli and more!

After leaving the market exit the same way you entered and walk back towards the subway, but as you arrive back at station continue across the main intersection and stay on the road. Or just come out of Exit 1 and take a left to the same road.

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As you walk down this road you will see the bright yellow exterior of Grain Ble. This great little bakery offers really delicious breads and pastries. If you’re looking for something different from the masses of generic Korean style baked goods, that are often sweeter tasting than that of western palette then this is the place for you.

After asking about their most popular bread we were pointed in the direction of the cheese and nut filled bread roll (in the picture above). It did not disappoint, a great savoury flavour reminiscent of freshly baked bread you’d get back home.

After you leave the bakery continue down the same road, you’ll arrive at a cross section with a main road, turn right here and you’ll stumble across our last spot for today..

coffee conhas

Coffee Conhas is a structurally interesting creation. An exterior of stacked shipping containers that connects to an adjacent old stone like building, when you pass by your eye is automatically drawn towards it. Open for four years now by a music producer, the name of which was kept secret (possibly famous or possibly not). This place offers speciality coffee and a unique environment.

After purchasing your coffee outside in a glass room, you look to enter the building. Greeted by large metal doors it feels like you’re entering a secret hide out, once inside you see large open tables in quite a dark light setting. The majority of people here were doing work or studying, no surprise for a Korean coffee shop.

Check it out!

 

Seoul Secrets

 

Further directions to featured spots:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cafebubu/1416069965348338

https://www.google.co.kr/maps/place/%EA%B7%B8%EB%9E%AD%EB%B8%94%EB%A0%88+Grain+bl%C3%A9/@37.5561774,126.9124015,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x4e667b37d3022f49?sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwik_t3VyKvNAhWBuxQKHfPIDjcQ_BIIbTAO

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Coffee-Conhas/490869087599957

 

 

 

Naksan Park

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This weekend Seoul Secrets ventured to northern Seoul for the beautiful panoramic views that can be had at Naksan Park, Daehangno. With only a modest height of just over 100 metres, this mountain served as one of four guardian mountains of the Joseon dynasty capital ,along with Bugaksan, Namsan, Inwangsan. An area of natural beauty with a portion of the old fortress wall perched upon the granite mountain, offers a great place to spend a weekend enjoying the weather. As well as being close to the Ihwa Mural Village for more picture opportunities.

To get here requires a small hike uphill from Hyewha Station through Daehangno and the Mural village for about 450 metres. Take Exit 2 from the subway station and follow the directions below:

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 Directions

-Take a left out of the Subway

-Walk through the park to the right hand corner

-Keep walking till you see a brown building with white tree art

-After passing this building take a left and walk towards a pharmacy

-Here you’ll see a white Italian restaurant and a sign to the mountain

-Continue meandering up the steep road till you see a grey stair case

-You are here! At the base of the mountain trial!

At this point it is very easy to navigate your way around the mountain, there are three main observation points, so go explore and have fun! There are walkways directly to the top, or take more relaxed meandering routes.

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If you head to the eastern side (as you look at the mountain) following the wall down you will join the top of the Mural Village which has some nice stores and cafes.

Here you’ll find this cafe offering a great view of Seoul.

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개뿔 Cafe is a very interesting name as it translates directly as dogs horn or nose, but it also has another slang meaning which is ridiculous or bullshit. But this is far from a bullshit place and the only thing that is ridiculous about here is the great view of Seoul looking towards Namsan. A great haven providing shade and refreshing beverages after walking in the midday heat, it will seem like an oasis in the desert. Pretty appropriate as this park is sometimes called Nakta Park, in reference to its hump like appearance and ‘nakta’ being korean word for camel. This is the spot to get your fill!

If you’re looking for somewhere to drink something stronger head back down to the station, and walk towards Exit 4 of the subway. Once here walk down the busy shopping street take a left at Tous les Jours, walk straight take a right at the end, keeping walking take left and you’ll see the black and yellow sign 독일주택 follow the pictures below:

 

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This homely pub, has a really Korean vibe, with traditional decor whilst offering German style beer…a winning formula! The name 독일주택 some people translate to mean ‘German House’ but the intended translation is 독=single in Chinese, 일= one in Chinese, so meaning ‘drink one cup of drink by yourself’. This place welcomes people to drink one beer by themselves, which is rare in Korean culture as drinking is very much a social event. With a bar and a courtyard area of a few tables, it’s quite a busy place so you may need to wait on the benches out front till a table becomes available. But its well worth the wait!

Go check out Naksan Park and enjoy the views!

Seoul Secrets

*Seoul Secrets would like to say a huge thank you to Jinhee who suggested this great spot as well as the drinking advice! Also like to thank Jisoo for helping navigate as well as providing the translations and meanings. Thank you so much!