Ground Seesaw Seochon and its uniquely-shaped building © Media & Art

[LOCAL TOUR] Exploring Style and Taste of Seochon
For the longest time, people who enjoyed and appreciated arts headed to Seochon. The neighborhood has both traditional homes and contemporary buildings resembling a well, had restaurants for buckwheat noodle and for Spanish cuisine. Here are some of the top Seochon destinations today.
Seochon refers to an area west of Gyeongbokgung. Pilun, Nuha, and Tongui are all parts of Seochon. And it’s a rare neighborhood in Seoul that has retained some classic sensibilities. It’s easy to find traces of past literary greats and artists who were based in Seochon, including Yun Dong-ju, Yi Sang and Park No-soo. There are young entrepreneurs who have opened up shops in Seochon after falling in love with the area’s classic beauty. Their quiet passion has brought a new edge to Seochon. The neighborhood remains as stylish as ever, with eclectic dining options.
Map of Seochon © Illustrated by Lee Dong-hyeok

Map of Seochon © Illustrated by Lee Dong-hyeok

❶ Palma
Palma, which opened in May, serves some interesting dishes: for instance, prosciutto taco featuring the dried Italian ham, and pork ribs barbacoa, inspired by the Korean style barbecued pork ribs. Chief Kim Soo-hyung, trained in Italian and French cuisine, applied his expertise to Mexican recipes. Some five hours before opening the restaurant, Kim prepares tortillas and salsa sauce, among other ingredients needed for that day, all by himself. A typical taco here will melt in your mouth in a hurry, but not before you can taste what makes Palma so unique. The interior design is sophisticated as Kim’s tacos. With white as the main color, the bright blue straight out of Yves Klein paintings gives the restaurant a distinctive look. Palma introduces itself as ‘modern taco bar’ on its Instagram bio, and you’ll see why that is the case once you pay a visit. It serves cocktails, bourbon whiskey and white wine, among other beverages you’d expect to see at a modern taco bar. From the bar table, you can see the chef hard at work in the kitchen.
Address 39 Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Hours 17:00~00:00, closed on Mondays
프로슈토를 얹은 프로슈토 타코

Prosciutto taco

‘손바닥’이라는 이름의 의미를 담아 다양한 손동작이 그려진 옷

Shirt with images of hand gestures, in a nod to the name ‘Palma’

팔마의 내부 전경

View of the inside at Palma

❷ Irasun
People of all ages, from all walks of life, visit Irasun. Their one common denominator is their love of photo books. Irasun only sells photo books. Since its opening in October 2016, Irasun has been unparalleled when it comes to retailing books of photographs. Once inside Irasun, you can pick up and browse any book you like. There are some old “first editions” and rare volumes, plus some latest books carefully selected by the store director, Kim Jin-young. None of the books is covered in plastic wrapping. “Once photographers have completed a series, the best way to fully appreciate their works is to view their photos,” said Kim, who believes a photo book isn’t merely a collection of photos, but a work of art in and of itself. Kim understands the value of photo books and loves them as much as anyone. Kim wants others to develop the same appreciation, and when you visit Irasun, Kim will always be there, ready to share his passion for photo books.
Address 5 Hyoja-ro 7-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Hours 12:00~20:00, closed on Mondays
의자에 앉아 편하게 사진집을 감상할 수 있다. © 이라선

You can grab a seat and browse photo books. © Irasun

새로운 사진집이 들어올 때마다 내부 진열도 바뀐다.

새로운 사진집이 들어올 때마다 내부 진열도 바뀐다.

Whenever new books come in, arrangements change.

❸ Poongryu Hall
At Poongryu Hall, you can enjoy coffee and some fancy-looking desserts. Tucked in a quiet corner of Seochon, it was built as an urban oasis. And it’s an ideal place to drink coffee and have desserts together. Poongryu Hall offers different types of desserts for each season. ‘Moonlight,’ croffle topped with fig, and ‘Late Fall,’ with marron mousse, are two popular items these days. Poongryu Hall just screams Korean from its name alone, and you will see more than a few hints of the Korean culture inside. Traditional folding screens can be found all over the place, and black furniture and the dark ambience evoke ink wash painting. Coffee mugs and desserts serve here are, in contrast, quite modern. Sounds of jazz fill the air. None of these elements would seem to fit with one another, but they create such a comforting harmony.
Address 20-12, Pilundaero 5na-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Hours Daily 13:00~21:00
마롱 무스를 사용한 디저트 만추와 핸드드립 커피의 근사한 페어링

Pairing of Late Fall, a dessert with marron mousse, and hand drip coffee

한국의 전통적인 분위기가 담긴 인테리어

한국의 전통적인 분위기가 담긴 인테리어

Interior design with the traditional Korean ambience

❹ Ground Seesaw Seochon
Ground Seesaw Seochon is situated in a place called Brickwell, a uniquely-designed, circular courtyard in the heart of a building. It’s a cultural complex built by Media & Art, with a focus on exhibitions. Ground Seesaw previously had a special exhibition on the webtoon < Yumi’s Cells >, and it’s now running < Holiday Memories > by the photographer Yoshigo. It features some 350 photos taken by the artists in holiday destinations around the world, including Miami, Dubai and places in Europe. It has been a popular show since its opening, and the building itself is something to behold, too. Yoshigo’s exhibition runs through Dec. 5 this year.
Address 18-8 Jahamun-ro 6-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Inquiry +82-70-4473-9746
Hours 10:00~19:00 daily, closed on first Monday of each month
그라운드시소 서촌에서 현재 진행 중인 요시고 개인전 풍경 © 미디어앤아트

그라운드시소 서촌에서 현재 진행 중인 요시고 개인전 풍경 © 미디어앤아트

그라운드시소 서촌에서 현재 진행 중인 요시고 개인전 풍경 © 미디어앤아트

An ongoing exhibition by Yoshigo at Ground Seesaw Seochon © Media & Art

❺ Folki
Folki is at once a café and a leather workshop. It stands on a hill that leads from Sajik-dong Community Center to Paiwha Girls’ High School, and it’s almost impossible to miss. The rectangular building painted in white features the letters ‘FOLKI’ in blocks. It wouldn’t look out of place on a Nordic European street, and the exterior of the building has long been a popular Instagrammable spot. The interior is just as impressive. Two hanok homes have been connected, with seokkarae (rafters) on one side exposed fully, and the ceiling-to-floor window on the other side. You can see the sun setting over the window in the evening. The signature items at Folki are Folki Latte (café latte topped with cream) and Rooibos Einspanner (rooibos tea with cream). Terrine, baked each day at the café, makes for a perfect dessert for the latte or the tea.
Address 6 Sajik-ro 9-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Inquiry +82-2-722-0855
Hours 11:00~22:00 daily
북유럽 골목에 있을 법한 폴키의 외관

Exterior of Folki, straight out of a Nordic European street

크림을 얹은 폴키라떼와 시그니처 티인 폴키티

Folki Latte, topped with cream, and signature Folki Tea

하얀색 벽과 우드 소품들이 조화롭다.

The white walls and wooden accessories form a perfect harmony.

❻ Scoff
The smell of savory butter wafts through the green door. Scoff, best known for scones and brownies, is a bakery café offering British desserts. The Seochon shop opened after the Buam location, and is housed in an old two-storey home. Freshly-baked pastries can be picked up on the first floor, and you can enjoy them upstairs. Other items here include Victoria sponge cake, lemon cake and shortbread, among other popular British desserts. Strawberry jam, the perfect companion to scones, plus clotted cream and butter are also available. Grab a seat by the window on the second floor, and the view of the cozy Seochon neighborhood will provide a nice backdrop to your afternoon tea.
Address Scoff Seochon, 31 Pilundaero 5ga-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Inquiry +82-70-7761-1739
Hours Wednesday~Sunday 10:00~19:00, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays
먹음직스러운 다양한 스콘과 쿠키들

Sumptuous scones and cookies

오후 3시면 생각나는 꾸덕꾸덕한 브라우니

Brownies, the go-to afternoon snack

취향대로 빵을 골라 접시에 담는다.

Pick pastries of your choice and put them on the tray.

❼ Daelim Museum
Seochon is home to art museums and galleries of varying sizes. If you want to explore the area with art on your mind, then your journey should start at Daelim Museum. Built with a vision of turning everyday life into art, Daelim Museum has made art more accessible to the young generation. It opened as Korea’s first art museum specializing in photography. It has since expanded to fashion and design, hosting exhibitions that the general public would find interesting and lowering the entry barriers to art. Some of Daelim’s most important photos exhibitions include those by Juergen Teller, Karl Lagerfeld, Ryan McGinley and Linda McCartney, and an exhibition celebrating the centennial of the birth of Finn Juhl. Daelim is taking a breather while preparing for the next show. Stay tuned on Instagram.
Address 21 Jahamun-ro 4-gil, Jongno-gu Seoul
Inquiry +82-2-720-0667
Hours Temporarily closed (preparing for the next show)
대림미술관에서 가장 최근에 열렸던 <기묘한 통의 만물상> 전시 풍경 © 대림미술관

대림미술관에서 가장 최근에 열렸던 <기묘한 통의 만물상> 전시 풍경 © 대림미술관

대림미술관에서 가장 최근에 열렸던 <기묘한 통의 만물상> 전시 풍경 © 대림미술관

View of < Tong’s Vintage >, the most recent exhibition held at Daelim Museum © Daelim Museum

❽ L’estiu
When we arrived at L’estiu at the start of its midday break at 3 p.m., chef Lee Saebom was chatting with guests at one table, while those at another table were still having their meal. Such a relaxed moment may make for a strange sight at other places but is a familiar one at L’estiu. The name of the restaurant means ‘summer’ in Valencian, and it has brought not just Spanish food, but its culture, ambience and all the easygoing vibes of Siesta. L’estiu gives a modern touch to traditional Spanish cuisine. Lee, who has traveled around the world and has been focusing on European cuisine for about 10 years, handles the cooking. Her specialty is paella, with sea bass, lobster and eel being among featured items. A paella dish takes at least 30 minutes because Lee starts from scratch with uncooked rice. And it’s well worth the wait, with many saying it’s the greatest paella they’ve ever had. Paella is often enjoyed on Sunday (note the expression ‘Domingo de Paella’) by families. Ordering paella at L’estiu is a pretty good way to enjoy a relaxing Sunday afternoon.
Address 4 Jahamun-ro 16-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Inquiry +82-2-722-2127
Hours 12:00~22:00, afternoon break 15:00~17:30, closed on Mondays
You absolutely have to try paella at L’estiu. Many people say it’s the greatest paella they’ve ever had.

You absolutely have to try paella at L’estiu. Many people say it’s the greatest paella they’ve ever had.

셰프의 손길이 매장 곳곳에 묻어 있어 더욱 따뜻한 분위기를 풍긴다.

The chef’s fingerprints are all over the restaurant, lending the place a warm ambience.

레스토랑 한켠에서는 치즈와 초리조, 하몽 등도 판매한다.

Cheese, chorizo and jamon are on sale at a corner of the restaurant.

❾ 0fr. Seoul
Step inside 0fr. Seoul, and you’ll feel like you’re in Paris. 0fr. Seoul is the first Asian branch of the Paris-based art bookstore, 0fr. Paris. It originally opened in Seongsu-dong in 2019, and moved to the current Seochon location in February 2020. Books, eco bags and t-shirts are all priced the same as products at 0fr. Paris. Items produced and selected in Paris have just been shipped to Seoul. CEO Park Ji-su wants to take it a step further, with eyes on bringing Paris and Seoul even closer with art exhibitions. On the second floor is a lifestyle shop called Mirabelle, which Park opened before launching 0fr. Seoul to sell vintage goods and interior accessories. The shop has now expanded to cover such areas as fashion and lifestyle accessories.
Address 11-14, Jahamun-ro 12-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Hours 11:00~20:00, closed on Mondays
0fr. 서울에서 나만의 보물을 발견할 수 있다.

You can find gems at 0fr. Seoul.

인기 많은 에코백은 다양한 컬러로 준비되어 있다.

Popular eco bags come in many differerent colors.

2층 미라벨에서 판매하는 귀여운 접시

Cute plates on sale at Mirabelle on the second floor

September 2021 Editor:Kim Hyewon
Photographer:Hae Ran

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  • September 2021
  • Editor: Kim Hyewon
  • Photographer: Hae Ran
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