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Daehakno Area, Miss Lee Cafe, Hanbok at KwangJong Market

Daehakno Area, Miss Lee Cafe, Hanbok at KwangJong Market

The area of Daehakno (대학로) near the Seoul University campus is a popular spot for students and artists. It is known as Seoul’s theatre district. A great place for people watching and to take a glimpse into Korea’s cultural activities. Short plays performed by university students, mainstream musicals and comedy shows are on Daehakno’s menu.

Location: Hyehwa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul. Here is what we saw.

The area around Hyehwa station is marked by an artistic spirit. Where you can catch a glimpse of Korea’s youth, clubs and entertainment culture.

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At one of the theatres we passed.

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At night, performances of amateur bands are often held in vacant spots. Opposite Arko Arts theatre.

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The streets are filled with trendy bars and cafés, decorated on individual concepts.

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However, the highlight of the evening was clearly a street dance performance.

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If you like to see Korean youngsters getting it on to catchy moves – watch this! Gangnam style starts after a warm-up at minute 2:00. For those of you still in the unknown, Gangnam is the posh suburb in Seoul mocked and made famous by Korean rapper Psy.

 

 

The most uniquely decorated café we found was called Miss Lee. I am honoured to sit next to that comic book looking icon.

Location: Jong-no gu, Dong-Soong dong 1-74, Seoul, near Hyehwa station (line 4), exit 1.  Check out their official website. http://www.missleecafe.com (Korean)

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The café is plastered with notes. It is incredibly girly!

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Couples write each other love notes on their 100th day anniversary. A very kyoot Korean thing!

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The red button is a practical invention to call staff when you are ready to order. Waiter call buttons are commonly found on Korea’s restaurant tables to cut on waiting time when in need of drink, napkin or food.

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We ordered hot sweet-pumpkin-latte and ice-five-taste-latte. For 14,000 won.

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Free snacks but no beer. Miss Lee serves tea and non-alcoholic beverages.

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Even the Olympic Girls Korea were here.

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And Miss Lee has obviously been acquainted to Norway’s most known artist.

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The café is great to reminisce about school times when lunches were served in little metal containers. The most popular meal on the menu is served in a metal box. The way to eat the snack involves shaking the container to mix up all ingredients. Sadly no veggie version available. You can get many sugary drinks or the typical Korean dessert, pat bing soo, which is shaved ice with red beans, fruits, rice cakes and ice cream. To describe the menu in one word, sweetlicious!

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A fancy façade worth to stop at. The Samsung Life Café. The changing digital display was new age rad.

Samsung (meaning ‘three stars’) is omnipresent in Korea. The Samsung group was founded in 1938 and these days is one of the world’s leading producer of electronics, semi-conductors, LCD screens,  the world’s second largest ship builder and mobile phone producer.

Once a company with 40 employees, it now generates 20% of Korea’s exports. My ignorant mind has only just found out that Tomek and I have been part of Korea’s global electronic reach when deciding on our travel equipment.

I have also read that Samsung had some major input to the construction of the Petronas Twin Towers we saw in Malaysia and the Taipei 101 in Taiwan (we will be visiting in two weeks!).

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When walking around the city, be it Daehakno or any other district, you can feel Korea’s amazing development and see the city prospering. People work hard, are well educated and proud of their country. I keep reading about the Miracle on the Han (Seoul’s river), a term to describe the transformation of Korea –  from an underdeveloped country to a striving industrialized economy. I am full of admiration for a country that was once as poor as North Korea and has earned its riches in less than 50 years.

Part of the fun is to see gadgets of developed worlds, all the cute and adorable stuff that is completely useless.

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These photo booths were also a pretty cool sight – a Korean purikura place.

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I think it was somewhere around Sungkyunkwan-ro 1-gil when we also spotted a one person flee market. I have had my eyes open for second hand clothes but first hand fashion is so cheap here that there seems not to bet much of a market for used stuff. I did find a cool area of antiques, though I will show you in another post.

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At the Hanguk Performing Arts Center, we passed a narrow alley with neat wall paintings.

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Street art!

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A wonderful day that makes me want to travel for ever. Oh, how corny!

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The area does inspire – to keep on travelling and see more beautiful corners of our world.

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That night we also saw one of Korea’s wedding places. Well that is an understatement.

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As we were on our way home, we vsited KwangJong Market. Also spelled Gwangjang Market or anything inbetween those two versions. An unmistakeably Korean place, focusing on fabrics. Established in 1905 it is Seoul’s oldest traditional market. Location: 6-1 Yeji-dong, Jongno-gu, get off Jongno-5(o)-ga station, Exit 7.

If you come late at night, you can see salary men and Koreas work fore relaxing, drinking and snacking but for the real shopping experience you gotta come earlier than we did. The market closes at 19:00 but some food stalls are open until midnight. A treat for all senses.

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Satin, linen or silk or endless stalls of shoes.

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In the centre of the market is a ‘big kitchen’. Food stalls lined next to each other. The market is not just satisfying clothing market fans but adventurous foodies for some very traditional snacks. I have heard that giant mung pancakes are a treat.  But of course, mung bean batter is seasoned with meat. Argh.

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The best part is the underground. Endless Hanbok stores!

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The beautiful traditional Korean dress.

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It was already closed but I will be back!

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This is the place.

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Hm. Considering the price for Hanbok, maybe I will settle with shoes. Golden ones. I mean, shoes can change your life. Ask Cinderella!

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