Matt Hong Jong-soo, and Mel Song Ri-young, founders of Matt and Mel © Matt and Mel

[INSIDER GUIDE] Jeju Adored by Surfer-Entrepreneurs of Fabric Brand Matt and Mel
Hong Jong-soo and Song Ri-young who run fabric brand ‘Matt and Mel’ know how to get the most out of Jeju Island. The couple rides the waves when the surf is high, finds inspiration as they walk along the Dulle-gil and makes drawings.
“Jeju Island is a fantastic place for us as we enjoy an outdoor life. You can always go surfing or set up camping right in front of your house, and the place overflows with flowers and trees. If you sometimes crave cultural activities, the island offers a variety of art museums, cafes, and shops.”
Hong Jong-soo, Song Ri-young, founders of Matt and Mel
제주의 유명 서핑 스팟 중 한 곳인 중문해수욕장 © 멧앤멜

Jungmun Beach one of the top surfing destinations in Jeju © Matt and Mel

Favorite gallery?
‘Bonte Museum.’ Designed by architect Tadao Ando, the building’s architecture, as well as its courtyard and pond, is stunningly beautiful.
· Bonte Museum 69 Sallongnam-ro 762beon-gil, Andeok-myeon, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
Place of inspiration?
‘Choenamdanhaean-ro next to Mt. Songaksan.’ I like to draw or work while having a car picnic on a grass field by the ocean and feeling the sea, wind, sky, and other natural elements.
· Mt. Songaksan 421-1 Songakgwangwang-ro, Daejeong-eup, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
송악산 옆 최남단 해안로. 바다 앞 초원에서 차크닉 © 멧앤멜

송악산 옆 최남단 해안로. 바다 앞 초원에서 차크닉 © 멧앤멜

Car picnic just off the ocean, along Choenamdanhaean-ro next to Mt. Songaksan © Matt and Mel

Favorite cafe?
We like to have coffee at ‘Gray Grove’ which has a distinctive layout that allows you to drink coffee while overlooking Sagye Beach, and ‘Totem Ore’ tea cafe with a unique Jeju ambience.
· Gray Grove 70 Hyeongjehaean-ro, Andeok-myeon, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
· Totem Ore 440 Yonggeum-ro, Hangyeong-myeon, Jeju-si, Jeju-do
Must-buy item in Jeju?
‘Matt and Mel Jeju Edition Sarong’ uses the representative symbols of the island such as haenyeo, dolhareubang, and murex as design motifs. The special-edition sarongs can only be purchased at offline shops in Jeju-do.
멧앤멜의 제주 에디션 사롱 © 멧앤멜

Jeju Edition Sarong by Matt and Mel © Matt and Mel

Favorite surf spot?
‘Jungmun Beach’ is the only place in Korea where coral reefs and a beach point with decent lengths of waves for surfers coexist. You can encounter some of the best surfs of the summer season there. (Being studded with rocks and reefs, Duke Point presents big swells as well, attracting thrill-seeking advanced-level surfers.)
· Jungmun Beach Saekdal-dong, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
중문해수욕장의 듀크 포인트 © 멧앤멜

Duke Point at Jungmun Beach © Matt and Mel

Favorite restaurant?
We recommend ‘Duke Surf Bistro’ located in Jungmun. It is famous for its taco cooked by a surfer owner who used to work as a hotel chef. ‘Yeonghae Sikdang’ has been in business since 1954 as a local favorite. Its popular menu includes milmyeon(wheat noodles), momguk(gulfweed soup), and suyuk(boiled pork slices).
· Duke Surf Bistro 6-6 Cheonjeyeon-ro 188-beon-gil, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
· Yeonghae Sikdang 34-2 Hamo-ri, Daejeong-eup, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
Must-eat food for tourists?
Make sure you try ‘mackerel sashimi’ in Jeju.
Favorite shop?
‘Art Salon Jeju’ is a select shop rarely spotted in Jeju Island. It carries clothing, magazines, and a variety of goods. ‘Jungmun Surfing Shop’ located near Jungmun Beach is Korea’s first hanok surfing shop. You can check out a wide range of surfing goods in person before purchasing.
· Art Salon Jeju 150 Chusa-ro 38beon-gil, Daejeong-eup, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
· Jungmun Surfing Shop 94 Jungmungwangwang-ro, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do
중문서핑샵 © 멧앤멜

Jungmun Surfing Shop © Matt and Mel

Hidden-gem place?
‘Songaksan Dulle-gil.’ Especially the latter half. Most people stop trekking after they see the first half of Songaksan Dulle-gil. But the truly amazing scenery can be found during the latter course. You can spot a palm tree forest and free-roaming horses galloping around.
송악산 둘레길 후반부 © 멧앤멜

송악산 둘레길 후반부 © 멧앤멜

The latter stretch of Songaksan Dulle-gil © Matt and Mel

Place offering Jeju’s signature scenery?
‘Geumneung Beach.’ There is a palm tree forest right by the beautiful ocean.
· Geumneung Beach Geumneung-li, Hallim-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do
가장 제주스러운 풍경을 볼 수 있는 곳, 금능해수욕장 © 멧앤멜

Geumneung Beach, with the classic Jeju scenery © Matt and Mel

About Insider: Living and Traveling Between Seoul and Jeju by Hong Jong-soo and Song Ri-young of Matt and Mel
Everyone dreams of a life that resembles traveling.  However, most people find themselves waking up from the dream soon and return to their daily routine. Husband and wife Hong Jong-soo(Matt) and Song Ri-young(Mel), who run fabric brand ‘Matt and Mel,’ took a different route. For their happiness, they quit their jobs seven years ago and left for Bali. While surfing and painting in the Indonesian island, they got to learn about the sarong and started Matt and Mel business to introduce the ‘sarong’ culture to Korea. The couple’s first sarong import was a large, long piece of cloth used as part of the traditional costumes as well as beachwear in Malaysia and Indonesia. Matt and Mel offers a variety of products in addition to sarongs, including handmade fabric, clothes, and living accessories. They create paintings based on the inspirations they find in nature, turn them into patterns to be transferred onto hand-dyed fabric. After going back and forth between Bali and Seoul for the dyeing process, they moved to Jeju-do where they can be as close to nature and also lead a life that has no border between everyday living and traveling. On top of managing Matt and Mel, Hong is also a professional surfer who trains in Jeju, while Song works as an artist who paints and exhibits her art.
Q. Is there a special reason why you chose Jeju Island of all the places in Korea?
A. First, our biggest priority was to live a ‘life resembling traveling,’ which is our slogan. The idea that Jeju is a place where surfing is an everyday activity and where inspirations arise naturally from its nature was enough for us to pull the trigger.

Q. How is it different from your life in Seoul?
A. I think the biggest difference would be the relaxed mind I have. In the city everything was hurried and I used to feel impatient. Living in a quiet place surrounded by nature, I get less stress doing the same work. The feeling of happiness in taking a walk in a densely-wooded area when taking a break is great. I go to Seoul once every couple of weeks for a few days’ stay to take care of business. It feels like going on a trip to a city, so I get to enjoy it more despite the tight schedule.
프로 서퍼로 활동하고 있는 멧 홍종수 대표 © 멧앤멜

프로 서퍼로 활동하고 있는 멧 홍종수 대표 © 멧앤멜

Hong Jong-soo, a professional surfer © Matt and Mel

Q. Could you tell us about how you and your wife spend your day in Jeju?
A. We usually work from our home office, but on a sunny day we take our work outdoors. We do design and paper work while camping. If there’s a swell arriving, we leave all that behind and ride the waves. (Laugh) In fact, my heart is fluttering as I’m filling in this interview and seeing some good waves.

Q. As a surfer, what is most attractive about Jeju-do?
A. Jeju-do offers Korea’s best surfs for the longest period in a year. In particular, Duke Point in Jungmun is the only reef point in Korea. It’s where you can ride the waves comparable to those of popular surf spots across the world, and share the experience with the nation’s top surfers. Jeju Island offers many other surf points as well. Above all, 20 minutes is all it takes to get to the sea and onto the surf is the island’s biggest selling feature.

Q. Is there a way to enjoy Jeju better?
A. Probably walking and surfing. It is an island with cobwebs of green, walkable trails and access to the sea and rolling waves in whichever direction you take. The warm climate of the island helps crops grow fast. Thanks to that, we have fun raising vegetables in our backyard.
멜 송리영 대표가 중문해수욕장에서 그린 그림 © 멧앤멜

Painting of Jungmun Beach by Song Ri-young © Matt and Mel

Q. How is Matt and Mel being managed now?
A. The online and offline management styles of Matt and Mel haven’t changed much. If there is a difference, it would be that we have chosen a path of slow, more sturdy growth with a relaxed mind, instead of a fast route. Our work in Jeju is pretty similar to the experience in Seoul. That said, working in a place so close to nature affects our design in a positive sense.

Q. We’d like to hear about your future plans.
A. It’s the same as why we founded Matt and Mel—to bring the beautiful sarong culture to Korea and have it become a popular trend in the country. Matt and Mel embodies nature that we love, small and beautiful things, and the happiness we feel. We would like to transfer the energy to those who get to know about Matt and Mel, and wish they could feel Mother Nature and remember the excitement of the Jeju trip through the colors and patterns of Matt and Mel that depict natural elements. Our brand aspires to work slowly but profoundly, to communicate with those sharing similar sentiments, and to keep on going. Like the sarong whose color gains depth as time goes by.

Matt and Mel Instagram
July 2021 Editor:Kim Hyewon

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