Now that we enter the third year of Pandemic, what does Myeong-dong look like? Myeong-dong, the center of Seoul and synonymous with downtown, is in a state of rapid stagnation, with stores closing increasingly after foreign tourists stopped visiting due to the Covid19. However, these days, the charm of Myeong-dong has re-emerged and new trends have arisen, so the number of people visiting Myeong-dong is increasing little by little. I went outside to capture the changing sight of Myeong-dong in 2022.
A cafe where the history of the past and the aesthetics of the modern coexist
The first place I visited was a cafe where I could warm up my body. I think this cafe has a slightly different feature from other places. This European-style modern building was built in the 1950s with modern elements. Originally, this was used as Alliance hall of the Chinese Three People Principle. After the Xinhai Revolution in 1911, China established a government called the Kuomintang, which is said to be the place where various diplomatic activities related to the Chinese government, Taiwanese government, and Korean government took place. As if to represent such a history, the Chinese embassy is located across the street from this cafe, and the view from the window while drinking some coffee gives a distinctive feeling of returning to modern society.
In this place, where the history of Europe, China, Taiwan, and Korea are merged, a baking team from a famous French confectionery school makes dessert every morning. Apart from offering desserts such as tarts, cookies, and tiramisu, they sell coffee and other Korean-style drinks. Some of these drinks are black sesame Einsfenner and Boseong (which region is famous for matcha) matcha latte. After ordering on the first floor, where European-style antique furniture was placed, I went to the second floor.
In front of the mirror on the stairs, I also took some pictures of the shoes I wore today: The Perfect Pump - Black. Together with the Peerless Pearl shoe clip, which is an easy way to spice up your shoes, it matches well with the black velvet skirt I'm wearing today, and it feels like it goes well with the vibe of this place.
The second floor was made with a wooden roof, large windows, fancy chandeliers, and antique interior accessories, creating a vintage and warm atmosphere. After all, this cafe was a well-known cafe on social media these days, so it was full of people. And everyone was enjoying this unique vibe where the past and the present coexist.
This cafe is currently popular on social media, so it was full of people. And everyone was enjoying this unique vibe where the past and the present coexist.
The shrine for cute characters & trendy goods lovers these days
Lotte Young Plaza may look similar to other department stores, but it has its own unique characteristics that are slightly different from others. Targeting teenagers as well as young adults, they sell cheap, diverse and trendy items, and are filled with a bright and casual vibe with popular accessory shops and young- sensible brands these days.
Entering from the first basement floor, there is a K-pop complex cultural space called “Palette”. In addition to small exhibitions, various hands-on events such as pop-up stores and live sessions are held at Palette. You can see the albums and goods of your favorite K-Pop artists and purchase them if you want.
On the first floor, there is a “Kakao Friends shop” full of stationaries made with cute characters at the entrance. It's Valentine's Day season these days, so they were selling a pink edition of the adorable “Ryan” doll! Also, since this year is the year of the tiger, a cute tiger doll dressed in hanbok was the “best item”.
Right next to it there was a prop shop called “Nemone”. It was a place where handmade soaps, scented candles, cute dolls, and unique items that you had never seen before were all there. I think it would be great to look around when you want to gift someone something special. I was impressed with the BTS picture frame made of glitters and the candle in the shape of a Korean traditional style of lucky bag. Next to the square was “YG Place”, which sold various goods of Black Pink and YG artists.
In addition to the shops I mentioned , fashion brands selling kitschy clothes and accessories, as well as K-pop pop-up store Cafe “Whosfan” operated by the K-pop fandom platform, are also located in this department store. Most of the Korean brands that are trendy among young people these days are located here, so it is a place I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in Korean culture and trends!
Korean classic secret bar with a motif of Geun-jeong Palace
The sun was going down. After a light dinner, I went to a bar called “Sookhee”. This is the place I was really looking forward to. With a secret bar concept, there is no signboard on the exterior of the building, and when I went up to the 4th floor, I found that Sookhee's logo was reflected in the light on the wall. When I saw Sookhee's octagonal logo with a sense of Korean beauty, it reminded me of our brand logo! But there is no door here, only a make-up table made of mother-of-pearl, a wardrobe, and a row of empty bottles.
Surprisingly, when you press a button on the wardrobe, the mirror of the make-up table opens and a new world is there. The interior of this bar, made with the motif of Geunjeong Palace in the Joseon Dynasty era, was truly unique. The walls of the bar were designed with traditional Korean landscape paintings and architectural elements and had an antique scent. I sat at the bar and chose a cocktail, and the fruit cocktail menu is in the roll of paper, and the drawings and writings are written with a brush, giving it a Korean mood. After choosing my drinks, I also changed the mood of my shoes to match this mood. The Korean design of “Midnight Blue “ that I brought out today fits the atmosphere of this bar so well. I simply changed one shoe clip, and my shoes could become even more gorgeous!
I tried the “Jeju Hallabong” and “Nonsan Strawberry” cocktails. “Hallabong” is a tangerine type of fruit from Jeju Island. “Nonsan Strawberry” is a cocktail made with strawberries from a region famous for its strawberries called “Nonsan”. The bartender introduced me to the process of making cocktails by crushing strawberries with a wooden grinder in front of me and pouring the liquor into the glass. I could feel the fresh scent, and I felt like I was being recharged with vitamins.
The bathroom here was full of Korean elements too, and the sink was made of elaborately and beautifully carved stone, giving it an oriental vibe. One wall was made of mother-of-pearl beautifully painted with trees, flowers, butterflies, and birds. The experience here made me want to visit this place again. Sookhee was quickly filled with people, but I can see why it is called a hipster place in Myeong-dong these days.
A landmark of Myeong-dong with a long history
I decided to take a walk around the Myeongdong Cathedral right next door. Myeongdong Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in Korea, built in 1890. Historically, it has been recorded as the first and largest gothic-style building in the history of modern architecture in Korea. Around this cathedral, pretty cafes are slowly popping up. Because the view of the cathedral from the cafe is always beautiful and majestic, whether it is daytime or night.
I walked around the cathedral, and it looked even more beautiful because there was a gothic flower-shaped glass in the cathedral's window. On the left side of the church, there is a sanctuary. From crosses to music boxes, socks, and other holy things and miscellaneous goods are sold, it was fun to look around. Just looking at it gave me a warm and sacred atmosphere.
I visited some unique places in Myeong-dong. How was it? In this ghost town that was devastated by the pandemic in previous days, historic buildings and shops featuring Korean art and culture are now reviving. Just as local New Yorkers do not visit “Times Square” on purpose, Myeong-dong has changed as it is filled with tourist-oriented commercial areas and services. The 2030 generation, the core consumer group that leads social and cultural trends, is returning to Myeong-dong. I think it is an encouraging phenomenon to bring people back together using the unique characteristics of the region. It was an impressive rediscovery for me, as Myeong-dong seems to be recovering its former vitality little by little. I hope for the day when people from all over the world, as well as Koreans, visit Myeong-dong again.
Keep an eye out for the next article in our - KADA:KUDU Across the world series!