How to Eat, Drink and Gallery Hop Like a Seoul Local

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The neighborhoods Itaewon, Samcheong-dong and Hongdae are fashionable with the city’s creatives. Three of them springiness their recommendations connected what to bash determination erstwhile visiting.

A winding way  cuts done  a elevation  covered with greenish  and reddish  plants, bushes and trees. A partition  runs on  the borderline   of the elevation  with greenish  trees successful  the inheritance  on  with 2  antenna towers and a tiny  building.
Namsan Park is location to galore taxon of trees, plants, and animals.Credit...Jun Michael Park

Aug. 31, 2023, 5:02 a.m. ET

South Korea’s superior is electric. Among its neon lights, K-pop and fast-paced energy, you tin consciousness the current, the hum of enactment moving done the streets. Nowhere is this much evident than successful Itaewon, Samcheong-dong and Hongdae, neighborhoods fashionable with the city’s creatives.

The sprawling metropolis isn’t ever the easiest to navigate for visitors with mostly Korean signs and a analyzable proscription system, but the cook Mingoo Kang of the 2 Michelin-starred Mingles; the modern creator Wona Cho; and Hakjun Lee, the wide manager of Christie’s Korea, instrumentality immoderate of the enactment retired it for tourists by sharing their favourite places successful these neighborhoods and the surrounding areas.


The Baker’s Table, the city’s lone German bakery restaurant.Credit...Jun Michael Park

As Seoul’s creation country grows much international, galleries similar Lehmann Maupin and Pace person established outposts successful this foreigner-friendly portion of the city, adjacent to a erstwhile American subject base, that is known for its nightlife, restaurants and shopping.

Ms. Cho, 41, who lives nearby, said this was a spot to spell to spot what’s trendy and fashionable with young radical successful South Korea. “I’m successful Itaewon the astir often,” Ms. Cho said successful a telephone interview. “You tin spot what young radical these days are up to, what benignant of apparel they’re wearing.”

For her, it is the brunch country she enjoys the most. She frequents Oasis, an all-day brunch cafe; the Baker’s Table, a German bakery; and Pancake Shop. She besides enjoys heading for a locomotion with her canine astatine Namsan park.

Mr. Kang, 39, who besides opened Hyodo Chicken, a collaboration betwixt himself and the cook Chang Ho Shin that specializes successful Korean fried chicken, said his favorites successful the country were the 3 Michelin-starred Mosu, the cook Sung Anh’s modern fine-dining restaurant; and the American casual eating edifice Cesta.

If visitors request a bully post-meal coffee, helium said they should caput to Hell Cafe. Mr. Lee described the java determination arsenic being similar “a consistent, aged friend.”

As for taste experiences successful the area, some Mr. Kang and Mr. Lee urge the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, which shows accepted Korean creation arsenic good arsenic modern Korean and Western art.

Mr. Lee, 58, besides recommends the Hyundai Card Music Library. It holds much than 10,000 vinyl records, including uncommon releases, that tin beryllium listened to on-site connected turntables. Next door, the Art Library houses thousands of creation books and the Storage accumulation abstraction displays modern ocular art. The 2 libraries are portion of a bid of 5 cultural spaces created by the recognition paper institution Hyundai Card. (Call up for entranceway and admittance information.)

If you’re bare aft taking each that in, Mr. Lee recommends heading to Bulgogi Love, a edifice celebrated for its thinly sliced marinated beef, arsenic good arsenic Pyongyang-style naengmyeon, which are acold buckwheat noodles. The edifice serves “very decent, authentic and elemental Korean foods,” Mr. Lee said successful an email.


Fritz Coffee’s Wonseo subdivision is located wrong the Arario Museum.Credit...Jun Michael Park

This vicinity is simply a maze of centuries-old houses, artisan workshops, museums and immoderate of Korea’s astir well-known galleries. “It’s hip, but it’s besides rather peaceful, quiet, has a quaint, old-fashioned feel,” Ms. Cho said. The country abuts Gyeongbokgung Palace, the location of the past Korean royal dynasty, and it is wherever you tin find galore of the city’s hanok, or traditional Korean houses.

Here, Ms. Cho and Mr. Lee suggest assemblage and depository hopping. The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, is simply a must-see for its planetary and Korean art, arsenic are longtime players successful the Korean assemblage scene, Kukje, Gallery Hyundai, Hakgojae and PKM Gallery. (Ms. Cho besides recommends trying to get a preservation astatine PKM’s restaurant, which serves Italian and cafe fare.)

There are besides newer galleries on the main agelong of Samcheongdong Road, including Gallery Afternoon, which Ms. Cho says person been exhibiting the works of young emerging artists.

Mr. Kang recommends heading to Fritz Coffee Company’s Wonseo branch, located wrong the Arario Museum successful Space. He often finds himself determination connected his days off, helium said, taking successful the ambiance successful the courtyard of the building, which is portion modern and portion accepted hanok.

Also nearby, Mr. Kang said, is Haap, a cafe that sells accepted Korean desserts and snacks, arsenic good arsenic the modern Korean good eating restaurants Joo-ok and Onjium.

And for those successful hunt of drinks, it’s Bar Cham that helium recommends. It makes originative cocktails with Korean ingredients and accepted liquor, specified arsenic soju, arsenic a base.


The revived Gyeongui Line Forest Park is simply a spot for household outings, hanging retired with friends oregon going connected a date. For tourists, a travel present is besides a mode to premix with locals.Credit...Jun Michael Park

Home to 1 of South Korea’s apical fine-arts colleges, Hongik University, this buzzing vicinity is wherever young artists and musicians person gathered for decades to footwear back, unbend and beryllium inspired. There’s a distinctly bohemian consciousness to the busker-friendly area, said Ms. Cho, who recommends wandering done the streets adjacent the schoolhouse to instrumentality successful the collegiate atmosphere. “There’s a batch of bars and restaurants here, similar Itaewon, but it’s antithetic to Itaewon,” she said. “There’s a feeling of freedom.”

Mr. Kang recommends heading to the adjacent Mangwon market, a accepted Korean marketplace that was modernized but is inactive beloved by locals and tourists for its blend of modern and classical offerings, similar deep-fried chicken, pigs’ feet, knife-cut wheat noodles.

He besides recommends Miro Sikdang for its homestyle Korean food, including spring-onion pancakes, marinated meats and savory atom cakes; Soi Yeonnam for its Thai atom noodles, Izakaya Robataya Caden for affordable Japanese and Ongo Patisserie for pastries.

If you’ve had your capable of nutrient and are looking for thing bully for the soul, Mr. Lee recommends heading to the Unplugged Hongdae to conscionable and perceive to young, talented, autarkic euphony artists. There is simply a cafe connected the crushed level and a tiny performance hallway underground.

“It is simply a precise interesting, unsocial spot that feels similar a harmless location for musicians,” helium said.

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