the Coolest Places in Korea
13 Cafes That Boast Architectural Beauty
- # Photo Zone
- # Café
A café that resembles three mushrooms
Visiting a city for the first time always makes my heart leap. This is particularly true for me because I haven't taken time off for a while since the end of the year. So this weekend's day off is quite precious to me. This is my first time visiting Cheongju, and I decided to experience the city without any information. After arriving in the city by bus, I spend a half-day walking around with a map and exploring various areas. Doing so makes me feel like I'm beginning to get a sense of the city. It resembles Seongbuk in Seoul somewhat due to the coexistence of hilly and flat areas and some historical sites from the Goryeo Dynasty. The most distinct commonality is the existence of amazing spots found across each area, like hidden jewels. This café can be compared to an area in Seongbuk near the entrance of Bukhansan Mountain. Located far from downtown Cheongju, the place at the mountain edge is surrounded by nature, just like the Seongbuk area.
The space here is quite interesting. Its roof resembles mushroom caps. A refined arrangement of modern materials and the gray bricks of the building body makes the place look like a work of art. This three-mushroom-like building has an entrance in the middle. I feel like I am in Smurf's Village as I enter the café flanked by round mushroom-like structures on both sides. Once inside the building, I understand why the roofs are like mushrooms. The simple ceiling structure resembled the shape of the roof. This unique structure fascinates me as I wonder how the entire curved ceiling structure was connected. As I walk inside the building, the shape of the ceiling structure seems to change, just as I expected when I first saw it.
I hear, "Welcome to Outro," as I enter the café. It always feels nice to be welcomed into a space. Receiving a hearty welcome as if I was a long-awaited guest always makes me happy. Being a stranger visiting this city for the first time in my approximately 30 years of life, I am glad to be welcomed, particularly so during my trip.
Guided by a staff member, I find a table and order coffee. In Seoul, I usually order an Americano, which can be prepared rather quickly. Today, I order a pour-over coffee, which takes longer so I could enjoy some leisurely hours during my trip and get some relaxation.
I look around. The big mushroom on the right side is a service station, and the one on the left is the main space. The windows show picturesque mountain views, and the chimneys are built into the high gigantic dome-shaped roof. In addition, the smell of burning firewood makes me feel like a mountain climber sitting in a mountain cabin.
This café, surrounded by the mountain, exudes both a relaxed and refined atmosphere thanks to the café's modern-style materials and familiar structures.
The traditional Korean pavilion and nearby retro spaces outside are enough to inspire stories of mushrooms. I love the space, which combines the traditional town concept with modernity. In addition, I can see in chronological order how the roof materials changed, going from shingles (made of thinly sliced rough stones), to asphalt shingles (rather modern material), and to something that resembled stucco (plaster mixture -- finishing material that was first used in Europe but is commonly used nowadays as well thanks to a material developed in the US). In a way, these different materials used on the roof look like they belong together like a "family."
I see the sunset behind the mountain in "Smurf Town." The sunset reminds me of the smiling sun in the Teletubbies show I used to watch as a kid. That marks the end of my first day in Cheongju.
This is #OutroCoffee, a café that looks like a mountain cabin in a "mushroom town" in Cheongju.
- Address: 676 Sanseong-ro, Sangdang-gu, Cheongju-si, Chungcheongbuk-do
- Operating hours: 11:00-22:00 (Closed on Mondays)
- Parking space available
- Attached is the menu. The coffee is really great.
- # Café
A gigantic café offering a fantastic ocean view
The café is named Moifin, meaning "Hello, Finland." The word Moi means "hello" in Finnish. The name itself greets everyone who visits the café.
This four-story café (approx. 1,650 m2) has a 16,500 m2 lawn. It is the ideal place to appreciate the expansive ocean view that unfolds beyond the windows.
Come enjoy the beautiful ocean view of Yeosu, and relax your mind and body.
- Address:50 Musulmok-gil, Yeosu-si, Jeollanam-do
- Operating hours: 09:30-21:00 (Last order 20:30)
- Parking space available
- # Cafe
Seonyudowon, like the imaginary resting place surrounded by nature where Taoist hermits used to take walks and rest.
Seonyudowon, a café recently opened in Seon-dong, Geumjeong-gu, Busan, was inspired by the town Seon-dong, which means a place where Taoist hermits stayed and had a playful time.
The café was built by Sung-ho Ko, an architect known for designing Chilamsagye in Gijang-gun, Busan. The café's design showcases Ko's preference for using the principle of 'borrowed landscapes' -- incorporating the surrounding scenery into the garden or landscape design -- and materials with static properties to emphasize the concept.
Seonyudowon offers a beautiful landscape that can help purify the mind. The café is divided into three wings -- Dongcheon, Dongjae, and Seojae – and features a stone garden, a silver grass garden, and a backyard.
Seonyudowon is a modern-day Shangri-la where you can take leisurely strolls and enjoy relaxing moments like a Taoist hermit.
The café created its brand character using the peach, a fruit enjoyed by Taoist hermits. In particular, the café created a signature menu item -- peach oolong tea -- and bakery goods that feature the peach.
The freshly baked natural yeast-based bread and drinks are quite superb, as is the wonderful space.
- Address:64 Sanghyeon-ro, Geumjeong-gu, Busan
- Parking space available
- #Photo Zone
- # Cafe
Occasions of change
There are occasions that make people change their perspectives of certain things. One of the various changes in perspective I experienced this year was about space.
When I visited Mukri 459 earlier this year, I couldn't understand why people would travel all the way to visit a remote space with no landmarks around. To me, a café was only a space I temporarily visited on my way to a certain destination.
But this particular space had several elements that I hadn't seen before, and the streamlined benches and huge windows constantly drew my eyes toward the view outside the window. It was the moment I realized that the impact a space had on human behavior was real.
This experience was not that different from the one I get at tourist attractions, and it changed my perspective of what a "destination" was. I realized that a destination is not defined by its characteristics but by what my heart desires.
- Address:484 Iwon-ro, Cheoin-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do
"Abundance in silence"
As the name suggests, the calm atmosphere and simplicity of the space make your heart full.
All the details, beautiful sceneries, tasty desserts, and coffee combine to transform tranquility into abundance.
Notably, the second floor has only tables for one person so that visitors can focus on themselves.
- Address:11 Seonsa-ro 8-gil, Jeju-si, Jeju-do
- Operating hours: 12:00-18:00
- # Dessert/Bakery
- # Hotel
- # Stay
A space where you can enjoy a panoramic view of Ulsanbawi Rock in Seoraksan Mountain
The Ambrosia Café, perched on the 10th floor of Sono Felice Del Pino in Goseong, Gangwon-do, offers a superb view.
Ulsanbawi Rock of Seoraksan Mountain, which has grand and magnificent views, can be enjoyed from this 10th-floor café in the Sono Felice East building.
The scenery was so beautiful that I was totally mesmerized.
The picturesque view wowed me.
The café is a must-visit if you have the chance to come to Goseong, Gangwon-do.
- Address:1153 Misiryeongyet-gil, Goseong-gun, Gangwon-do
- Operating hours: 08:00-21:00
- Family-friendly zone
A peaceful walk in the afternoon on a winter day
I found a cozy café surrounded by nature. Warm sunlight coming through the windows and people sitting in the café with the view behind them created a picturesque scenery. Palsoop, a café in Namyangju, is sought after by many people. I visited the café as people around me recommended it. The space's unique structure and the delicious bread sold there were quite good. I strongly recommend the café as a dating spot in Gyeonggi-do. Also, you can consider visiting the café as part of your driving course outside of Seoul.
A narrow street diverging from the main road will lead you to a large outdoor area on a hill. Like Palsoop, cafés in Namyangju frequently sit on large land. The building's unique design of combining both rectangular and curved surfaces is distinctive. It has a retro atmosphere like it was transformed from a restaurant. The indoor space is nice, but don't forget to walk outside the building and feel the surrounding nature. The seats in front of the windows are ideal spots to catch the sunlight. If you come here on a warm day, you can opt to sit indoors or out.
Great Places to Take a Walk
Behind the building, you will find a long walkway and outdoor seating. The café has an ideal environment for dogs. String lights hung on trees add to the cozy ambiance. The lights create a beautiful nightscape. If you visit the cafe on a snowy day, you can enjoy the crunchy sound as you walk across the snow. The secluded surroundings make the cafe an excellent healing spot surrounded by nature.
The price range for the drinks is rather high. There are several coffee-based menu items. You can also choose from diverse fruit ades, teas, and non-coffee menu items. The place could be considered a brunch café as it offers a variety of bread menu items such as 'croffle' (croissant made into waffle) with ice cream, grilled arugula sandwiches, rye bread brunch and French toast brunch. While I was at the café, several people were enjoying a late-afternoon meal in a leisurely manner.
The large windows along the curved surface of the café walls offered panoramic views. The height of the windowsill is at the same level of the chairs, so people can thoroughly enjoy the landscape. Sitting on a low chair will allow people to see the larger area above. You can tell that the café owner carefully considered the interior design so visitors could appreciate the beautiful views in a leisurely manner. Overall, the space looks neat and bright.
The underground level has the same structure as the main space but looks somewhat darker due to the shadows. Therefore, the two different levels have different charms. One weakness of the space is that the sound from the speaker is rather loud. On the positive side, you can use your laptop and wall sockets. Here at Palsoop, both light and shadow coexist.
- Address:38-41 Gyeonggang-ro 849beon-gil, Namyangju-si, Gyeonggi-do
- Operating hours: 11:00-19:00
- Inquiries: +82-31-577-0526
- Parking: Parking space available in front of the store
- Pets allowed
Café Perception in Hapjeong-dong looks ordinary from the outside, but once you enter, you will see a magnificent ceiling.
Signature menu items include espressos with romantic names such as 'Atmosphere of the Place' and 'Temperature of the Day.' You can also enjoy pour-over coffees brewed using flannel filters and a Chemex coffee maker.
- Address:16 Eoulmadang-ro 1-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul
- Operating hours: 10:00-22:00 (Last Order 21:30)(Closed on Tuesdays)
- #Culture Complex
- # Shop
- # Cafe
I heard a huge coffee shop opened in Geumcheon-gu, so I visited the area near the Gasan Digital Complex Station after not having been there in a long time.
A large roastery is in the café, and the huge circular courtyard surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass windows is very impressive.
The building is large and has a basement and a rooftop space on the fourth floor. Several companies are nearby, so the café is crowded with office workers during lunchtime.
It is a great place to take a break on a crisp fall day.
- Address:127-20 Gasan digital 2-ro, Geumcheon-gu, Seoul
- Operating hours: 08:00-21:00 on weekdays, 10:00-21:00 on weekends
- #Space Note
A building resembling the long straight feather of a crane sits in the town of Nohak-dong in Sokcho-si. The word hak in Nohak-dong means 'crane' in Korean.
The café's name, GID, originated from the Korean word git, meaning a bird's feather.
As you look up after crossing the low-lying fields, the vast mountainous landscape unfolds, with stone mountains standing in the background majestically.
The relaxing and picturesque view is in harmony with the beautiful and neatly designed building.
I hope you can enjoy a peaceful and relaxed moment at café GID where your worries will fly away like a bird.
This café was created by Studio Denova, which developed Mukri 459 and D-Scape.
- Address: 60 Wonamhaksapyeong-gil, Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do
- Instagram: @sokcho.gid
- # Cafe
Sitting on the fifth floor of the Seogang 8 Kyung Building, Type Coffee Hangang Branch offers a panoramic view of the Hangang River. The café is near Sangsunaru, where you can see Seogangdaegyo Bridge. An expansive view and a modern mid-century interior with designer furniture add to the simple, practical, and stylish atmosphere.
It is a great place for conversations, studying, or taking some relaxing moments alone. Type Café offers diverse coffee options – Americano, latte, Aeropress, pour-over coffee -- depending on your preference for single origins, blends, or specialty coffee beans.
Non-coffee items, such as kombucha lemonade and milk tea, are also available. After 18:00, the café sells wines and side dishes, so you can enjoy a calm and romantic evening while appreciating the nightscape.
- Address:5F, 128 Tojeong-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul
- Operating hours: 11:00-21:00 (Closed on Mondays)
- Paid valet parking available
- # Cafe
[0.Gan Teri in Daejeon]
We lead lives mainly in three types of spaces: your house, where you feel safe; your workplace, where you work; and public spaces, where you relax, socialize and communicate.
In particular, public spaces come last, but their significance has increased to the level of the first two locations.
This means cafés are starting to take up a significantly greater portion of our lives. There used to be small cafés in your village and large franchise coffee shops like Starbucks in the city. Nowadays, large cafés are opening in spacious areas in the suburbs.
Cafés have become a type of architecture and space beyond places to enjoy drinks.
When we are in a 'café space', we can feel and experience the power and value of the space.
This really means a lot. Maybe the way forward for architecture and space is changing. Existing architectural buildings, particularly those in Korea, have a clear purpose.
The purpose here means you should have a certain reason when you visit a building. In other words, you don't visit a building unless you have a reason.
Think about your own experience, and you will notice that you rarely enter a building without a clear purpose. This is why "café architecture" is even more valuable.
Cafés do not have a distinctive purpose. If you pay a small amount of money, you can do what you want in the space without interference from the café owner. You can feel freedom, which makes you "consume" the space again. This is why countless cafés open and develop.
Indeed, cafés have evolved tremendously over the past few years. In the past, Starbucks was one of the most expensive cafés, but now coffee prices at most cafés are way above that of Starbucks.
A drink at a café is no longer just a drink. It's a ticket to time and space.
This shows the sad reality that there are not many spaces where we can relax and casually spend time. If there were more spaces, like squares and parks where we can freely visit without time or economic restraints or benches where we can just sit and talk, then the demand for cafés would decrease.
At cafés, we can feel freedom.
The current phenomenon does not have entirely positive aspects. Still, I think café architecture in Korea is a small jumping board for further development.
This is because the quality of the spaces that the public experiences and sees is being raised.
Spaces develop when the public is not satisfied with common and ordinary spaces. The development of spaces gives us a better life and creates a virtuous cycle.
- Address:25-3 Hanbat-daero 371beon-gil, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon
- Operating hours: 11:00-22:00 / Last Order 21:00
- # Dessert/Bakery
Nonspace, a newly opened café in Icheon, is housed in a building that looks like a work of art.
Nonspace recently opened in Icheon. The building symbolizes the rice stubbles that remain after rice grains are cut off. The building exudes a refined and stylish ambiance. The exposed concrete, a long coffee bar, and wooden furniture create harmony, adding special value to the space.
- Address: 139-12 Dongsan-ro 395beon-gil, Icheon-si, Gyeonggi-do
- Operating hours: 11:00-21:00 (Opens at 12:00 during winter [November to February])
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