[Photo credit: Leeum Museum]
The Comme des Garçons Street is lined with cafes, boutique clothing stores and galleries, and spans from the headquarters of advertising titan Cheil Worldwide to Hangangjin Station in the Hannam-dong area of Seoul. Though it was once a standard community neighborhood, in recent years it has blossomed into a rich and diverse area with a strong focus on the arts and culture. The area is named the Comme des Garçons Street after the fashion-forward Japanese brand Comme des Garçons flagship store that opened there in 2010. Since then, the neighborhood has become a cultural hub of fashion and the arts.
Atop the hill overlooking the street is the famous Leeum Museum, which houses some of the late Samsung founder's personal collection of art and artifacts. On the downward sloping path from the museum to the Comme des Garçons Street are boutique stores and salons, ever-present in the neighborhood. Upon arrival at the main strip, it is evident that whether it is a brand name fashion store or an artisanal bakery, the designs of the buildings on this street display the area's dedication to the artistic sentiment. Read on to find out how to spend a day immersed in the arts in this unique Hannam-dong neighborhood.
Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art (삼성미술관 리움)
Completed in 2004, the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art is an extension of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chul's cultural vision. What started as Lee's personal collection is now an amalgam of over 300 pieces of modern art and historic national treasures. Currently managed by the Samsung Foundation of Culture, the museum has dedicated the space to the mission of preserving historical Korean culture, while simultaneously showcasing international and modern art as a way of guiding the modern Korean art scene into the future.
The Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art also has a gift shop, a floral pop art-themed café and the Samsung Child Education & Culture Center. The gift shop has unique and well-designed gifts for all ages and the Samsung Child Education & Culture Center hopes that by having younger generations interact with art through special programs, it can help foster an appreciation for art and culture. Once again the art of the museum is not confined to just the galleries as giant pop art flowers covering the walls add to the artistic charm of Leeum's café.
So, if you are in the Hannam-dong area, don't miss a chance to immerse yourself in art and culture at the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art.
Getting there: From Hangangjin Station Exit
1, walk straight for 200m and take your first right after the
large arch (you should see a sign for LEEUM). Walk up the hill
for 250m and the museum will be on your right.
Hours: 10:30 – 18:30, Closed on Mondays
Address: 60-16, Itaewon-ro 55-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
[Shopping & Entertainment]
Comme des Garçons
Located in the quiet neighborhood area just below the Leeum Museum is Comme des Garçons, the Japanese fashion label's flagship store in Seoul. The exterior and interior of the store were personally designed by the label's founder, Rei Kawakubo. The six-story building displays 13 different collections that range from women's and men's clothing to perfume and accessories. The store also features a branded art exhibition space and the "Rose Bakery," an organic French bakery and café.
Artistic angle: The shop's interior and exterior design are a work of art. The fashion items are arranged and displayed like artwork.
Getting there: Seoul Subway Line 6, Hangangjin Station, Exit 1. Walk straight for about 5 minutes. It is on the right, after the large arch.
Address: 261, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
As the largest performing arts hall in Korea, the Blue Square hosts national and international concerts and musicals throughout the year. The theater also features the first international branch of Dress Circle, a UK based musical theater shop that is also the oldest in the world.
Artistic angle: Musicals, concerts, and other performances.
Getting there: Directly connected to Seoul Subway Line 6, Hangangjin Station, Exit 2 or 3
Hours: Depends on the performances.
Address: 294, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Millimeter Milligram Store and Lounge (MMMG)
Millimeter Milligram (MMMG) is a trendy shop featuring stationery, fashion items and furniture. The three-story building also houses a café.
Artistic angle: A cozy atmosphere that feels like home. Artsy stationery and furniture.
Getting there: From Hangangjin Station, Seoul Subway Line 6, Exit 3, walk straight for 600m and it will be on your left.
Hours: 1F: 11:00-21:00 / 2F: 12:00-21:00
Address: 240, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
STEVE J & YONI P
STEVE J & YONI P is a fashion brand founded by designer couple Bae Seung-yeon and Jeong Hyuk-seo that debuted at London's fashion week. STEVE J & YONI P's clothes have been gaining popularity among celebrities in Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Italy.
Artistic angle: Clothing, accessories, resident black cats, and more.
Getting there: From the MMMG store, continue walking towards Itaewon Station until you see a Japanese pub called "Sakura" (사쿠라) on your left. Immediately after Sakura, there is an alleyway and stairs. Take the tiny alleyway next to the pub and walk straight down the stairs and continue along the road for about 200m to find the store on the right side. The sign says "Two heads are better than one."
Tel: +82-2 796 4766
Address: 19, Daesagwan-ro 5-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
[Restaurants & Cafés]
Takeout Drawing is an organic café, art exhibition space, and studio for artists. Through its café residency program, artists reside in the café for a designated period of time to create their artwork, which in turn provides ideas for the café's menu and services. Check out the "Drawing Menu," which is made through collaboration work between the café and its resident artists.
Artistic angle: Art exhibitions, play, art talks, drawing menu, wall scribbles, and more.
Menu: Paul's Meringue Factory 7,000 won, Storming Ant 7,000 won, Americano 5,000 won, Almond Meringue Cookie 3,000 won
Getting there: From Hangangjin Station Exit 3, walk straight for 500m. The café is on your left.
Address: 252, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu
Run by an architect and fashion designer couple, B-shop is an organic restaurant and high-fashion clothing store. B-kitchen uses unique Korean ingredients to create fusion Italian dishes such as mackerel pasta, galbi (Korean barbeque) risotto, and sea squirt pasta. While waiting for your meal, you can browse through SUUWU's clothing collections, which are made with traditional Korean hanji paper and silk. A big Lego figure at the entrance makes the restaurant, shop and café easy to spot.
Artistic angle: SUUWU collections, interior and exterior design elements.
Menu: Spaghetti w/ grilled macherel 18,000 won, Sea squirt cream sauce pasta 18,000 won, Dinner course 70,000 won
Getting there: From Hangangjin Station Exit 1, walk straight for 200m. It is immediately after the Comme des Garçons store on the right.
Hours: 11:00 - 20:00 (SUUWU), 11:00~23:00 (B-kitchen / closing time 15:00 - 18:00)
Address: 259-1, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu
With a striking exterior and interior design, Passion5 offers an extensive desert menu of 300 to 400 confections. "Passion5" refers to the five elements of the shop: its bakery, patisserie, chocolatier, café, and the passion towards its customers. On the 2nd floor of the café is L'atelier, and as the name would suggest, l'atelier meaning workshop in French, it is a place where the food and desserts are crafted with expertise. The interior design is inspired from some of the works of world famous artists such as Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Roy Lichtenstein, and Vanessa Beecroft, and the restaurant offers brunch, Italian dishes, and even more desserts.
Menu: Cakes from 4,000 won, puddings from 3,000 won, coffee menu from 5,000 won
Getting there: From Hangangjin Station Exit 3, walk for 300m. The building is on your left and has a red chicken statue in front of it.
Hours: 07:30-21:00, Open all year around
Address: 272, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Rose Bakery is an organic food and café shop from France. Located on the 1st floor of the Comme des Garçons store. Try some organic coffee while browsing through the Comme de Garçons' "PLAY" collection. Check out how fresh the ingredients are at the open bar style kitchen.
Menu: Eggs benedict 19,000 won, Risotto of the day 19,000 won, quiche (1/2 size) with salad 7,700 won, carrot cake 7.000 won, americano 6,000 won
Getting there: It is located on the 1st floor of the Comme de Garçons store.
Address: 261, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul