Shim Bora, CEO and florist of flower design studio SUNSUN © Illustrated by Lee Dong-hyeok

[INSIDER GUIDE] Florist Shim Bora’s Guide to Green Seoul
Seoul-based florist Shim Bora runs flower design studio SUNSUN as CEO and florist. Varying shades of green greet her the moment she steps out of her house in Seoul.
“Seoul is where I was born and brought up in. It’s a familiar, comforting city that I love with all my heart. I particularly feel the beauty of Seoul when I see mountains and buildings downtown blend well together. Sometimes I do not appreciate how oversensitive and obsessive the city is regarding trends, but also understand that’s part of Seoul’s charm.”
Shim Bora, florist
경복궁 돌담 옆 산책길 © 일러스트 이동혁

Walking path along the stone walls of Gyeongbokgung Palace © Illustrated by Lee Dong-hyeok

Favorite walking trail?
Gyeongbokgung Palace is a must-see landmark in Seoul. In addition, the perimeter of Gyeongbokgung serves as a great walking path, lined with various cafes such as mk2 and Irasun Books, restaurants, and galleries. Looking for those places is another fun factor.
· Gyeongbokgung 161 Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
A place where you can fully feel the seasons?
I like going to Buam-dong in spring, fall, and winter. Take out a cup of coffee at a cafe and just continue walking the neighborhood. While walking, you can smell the scent of the season in the street. Despite its central location within Seoul, streets are relatively empty, and the atmosphere is quite different from the typical Seoul vibe.
· Buam-dong 145 Changuimun-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (Buam-dong Community Service Center)
앤트러사이트 합정 © 앤트러사이트, 일러스트 이동혁

앤트러사이트 합정 © 앤트러사이트, 일러스트 이동혁

Anthracite Hapjeong © Anthracite Coffee, Illustrated by Lee Dong-hyeok

Favorite cafe?
I often go to Anthracite Coffee. I think I’ve been to every branch in Seoul. Anthracite Hapjeong is very dear to my heart as I used to frequent it with friends in my high school days. Anthracite is familiar and convenient, but the reason it grew on me is in the details of the shop. Each branch has its own design concept which is conveyed clearly to the customers. Music playlist is also unique to each branch. I like the fact that Anthracite Seogyo does not play BGM. At Anthracite, you can easily find little caring details. For instance, the POS terminal is hidden or placed lower than the eye level to ensure employees can make eye contact with the customers.
· Anthracite Hapjeong 10 Tojeong-ro 5-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul
· Anthracite Seogyo 11 Worldcup-ro 12-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Favorite restaurant?
I love pizza. I feel happy when I eat a good one. (Laugh) Both American oven-baked pizza and wood-fired pizza are both nice. I recommend Hawaiian pizza at Bonny’s Pizza Pub. It is delectable. I used to pick Salvatore Cuomo as the top pizza place, but unfortunately it is closed.
· Bonny's Pizza Pub 2 Sinheung-ro 3-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Must-eat food?
I recommend Goryeo Samgyetang located near Seoul City Hall. The food is absolutely delightful. You should give it a try.
· Goryeo Samgyetang 1 Seosomun-ro 11-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
산과 빌딩, 전통과 현대가 어우러진 광화문 © Mongkol chai,

Gwanghwamun, with mountains and buildings, the tradition and the modern existing in harmony © Mongkol chai,

The most iconic landscape of Seoul?
Sometimes it feels strange to stand in Gwanghwamun and see the tall building complex against the backdrop of mountains. The mix of mountains and buildings is truly strange(in a positive way) and stunning.
Hidden gem?
The trail up to Mount Namsan. Everyone knows about it, but I still think it is a true gem in Seoul. I have a great experience whenever I go there. It is probably because of all the trees lining a good walking trail.
· N Seoul Tower 105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
A place where you can buy plants?
I recommend Yangjae Flower Market. It has a fresh cut flower zone and a potted flower house. The market offers all kinds of flowers including foliage plants, orchids, bonsais, and wildflowers, so visitors can find the plant and pot they like.
· Yangjae Flower Market 27 Gangnam-daero, Seocho-gu, Seoul
식물관PH © 식물관PH

식물관PH © 식물관PH

Botanical Garden PH © Botanical Garden PH

A place with a great planterior?
I have once held a class at Botanical Garden PH. I immediately fell in love with the high ceiling and natural light coming in through the terrace where the moss drew attention.
· Botanical Garden PH 24 Gwangpyeong-ro 34-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Inspirational place?
Galleries in Jongno-gu. Going to exhibitions by myself is my long-time hobby. I couldn’t go often these days due to Covid-19, but I love the quiet part of Jongno district where the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Art Sonje Center, and Kukje Gallery are all in one place. Hotels or department stores also inspire me. Diverse product designs, objets and flooring in spaces, music playlists, landscaping, and people's attitudes are all small details that could be inspiring. I like watching menu designs, as well as the color schemes and layouts of show windows.
© 스튜디오 선선


About Insider: Living With Plants in Seoul
There are a number of mountains in Seoul. The highest peak being Mt. Bukhansan’s Baegundae which stands 836m above ground, over 100 mountains can be found in Seoul. It is still easy to forget about them if you live in a city that also is packed with numerous buildings. It’s a different story with florist Shim Bora. As someone whose job is to make sure that flowers and plants look their best in any situation, she discovers the green space regardless of where she is. Shim, who believes the most iconic Seoul scene is the one featuring mountains and buildings together, is the CEO of flower design studio SUNSUN. Since opening the studio in Huam-dong in 2018, she has been teaching classes, and doing landscaping and flower-styling works.
Q. Tell us about Studio SUNSUN.
A. SUNSUN is where I hold flower classes and work on various projects, focusing on the arrangement of cut flowers, herbs with roots, and woody plants. I help my customers deliver their feelings and ideas to themselves or other people, and show the beauty of a flower from start(bud) to finish(wilting).
© 스튜디오 선선


Q. What does ‘SUNSUN’ mean?
A. The name SUNSUN started from ‘seon’ which is the Korean word meaning ‘line’. If you write it down phonetically, it could mean ‘sun’ in the sky. At the same time, it could also mean ‘sun’ using a different Chinese character that signifies collecting your mind and thinking quietly. I liked the fact that ‘sun’ can have a variety of positive meanings, and that’s how the studio was named ‘SUNSUN.’

Q. What do you prioritize in your work?
A. The color scheme and arrangement that will make the flowers and plants most beautiful. It is a total reflection of my own preference of simple and neat images. As I’m dealing with living organisms, I try to ensure they can last as long as possible. To a florist, flowers and plants are the most attractive materials to work with.
스튜디오 선선에서는 다양한 수업을 진행한다. © 스튜디오 선선

스튜디오 선선에서는 다양한 수업을 진행한다. © 스튜디오 선선

SUNSUN runs a wide range of classes. © SUNSUN

Q. Any special reason that you deal with diverse classes involving stone and wood art as well as bonsai, in addition to the regular cut flower classes?
A. I sincerely enjoy having classes. It feels like I’m showing a performance. I want to teach and share as much as possible through these classes. After I put my heart and soul into planning the curriculum, coming up with designs and setting up the class, I feel exhilarated. I think that’s why I like to open diverse classes.

Q. What is it like to live a life always dealing with flowers and plants?
A. First you have to be diligent. You have to go to the early-morning flower markets and do a lot of prep work. It’s tough but it’s also fun. Like the sort of fun in working when everyone else is sleeping. (Laugh) I do not have a grand plan or goal with my life. I do want to have this career for a long time. I hope I’ll spend each and every day keeping a good balance between life and SUNSUN.
© 스튜디오 선선


Q. In this time and era, do we need flowers and plants?
A. There certainly is a power that plants generate. The feeling of happiness whenever there is a new budding or blossoming is a lot greater than expected. I hope people can feel the value and beauty of a small life that plants can show us.

5F, 5 Seolleung-ro 132-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
September 2021 Editor:Kim Hyewon
Cooperation: Lee Donghyuk(Illust)

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