A Seoul Travel Guide
The insider guide to Seoul restaurants, architecture, and art
Seoul is where South Korea’s present and past meet. A hotbed for creatives working in art, fashion, and food, the city is also home to an inherent historical depth. Hankering for its bright lights and quaint traditions alike, a generation of emerging talent is shaping its narrative by promoting both contemporary and traditional practices. In terms of travel, the city is not for the fainthearted, and navigating Seoul’s sprawl asks for an inherent sense for adventure. Revealing their favourite haunts, two creatives take us around their hometown and let us in on where to eat, shop, and find the best art spaces – to be visited post-lockdown, of course.
Jinsol, artist and painter
Artist and painter Jinsol’s depictions of everyday realities, from home scenes to culinary compositions, embrace a dreamy vibe. Captured in pastel hues, her paintings are whimsical, representing her notion of space as one defined by human interaction. To Jinsol, Seoul is a melting pot of creative voices, a city that fosters traditional practices and emerging disciplines alike.
How would you describe your work in just a few words?
Everything I do revolves around my idea of space: that only human interaction can turn it into a place.
How would you describe your local creative scene?
Seoul is a very creative city where various creators gather to work. In Eulji-ro, where my atelier is located, you find many craftspeople and art supply shops, so it is easy to create whatever artworks you have in mind.
What is your favourite thing to do in the city?
I love going to see exhibitions. Jongno, in particular, is home to a variety of museums, making it a good place to find independent galleries and art museums.
What’s your favourite art or creative space?
Waterwindstone-Museum on Jeju-island.
Any other haunts of yours?
If you come to Seoul, you have to visit Naeja-dong (near Gyeongbokgung station) where you can find cosy bars in traditional Korean houses – these places are great to see Seoul in its most authentic form.
Gilmin, fashion creative and entrepreneur
Seoul is home to a thriving fashion scene that constantly evolves thanks to young, independent brands. One of them is NIISSIPRESS. Founded by Gilmin, the unisex label caters to identities of all ages and promotes a style that is eclectic and sophisticated alike. For Gilmin, Seoul is a place that marries vibrancy and tranquillity, a city she turns to for inspiration and calm at the same time.
Tell us about your local fashion scene.
Korean fashion is ever-changing. People have distinct personalities and are sensitive to trends, which is why they are constantly interested in new brands.
How does Seoul fuel your inspiration?
Seoul is a metropolis, but you can equally find calm here. When I’m feeling exhausted from work and need to get some rest, I often go to Gyeongbokgung Palace, which was built in 1395. Though it is located right in the centre of Seoul, which is full of large buildings, inside it is very quiet – you can really experience Korean traditions here.
How would you describe your brand?
NIISSIPRESS is a streetwear brand all about comfort: casual clothing featuring a graphic visual language. I am most pleased when people of all ages and genders enjoy it, when they feel comfortable while looking stylish.
What is your go to place for food?
I love going out for food. I can totally recommend Cafe Yoho in Seogyo-dong, my favourite brunch cafe. Not only for their delicious food, but also their extensive range of good coffees. Also, there is a nice gallery right next to it – whenever the gallery has a new show on, Cafe Yoho changes its interior to suit the artist's style and universe.
Where do you go for fashion?
I’d say Garosu-gil in Sinsa-dong, an area full of shopping streets and restaurants.
Also, you can’t miss Dongmyo flea market! It’s in a neighbourhood located near Dongdaemun, the centre of Korean fashion, and full of great vintage products. The renowned menswear designer, Kiko Kostadinov visited this area some time ago and fell in love with it. Originally it was a flea market that only elders would visit, but it has recently become more popular among young people.