South Korea: Insiders Guide to Seoul

How much do YOU know about Seoul? Personally, I never really thought about it. Not until my dear friend Valentine decided to move there last year with her boyfriend, Julien. This is the same gorgeous couple that appeared in my SMOOCH Films promo video last year. Our last time together before they jetted off to South Korea’s capital city.

I’ve since been following their adventures through Facebook photos, and am convinced that MF and I need to visit next year! While they’ve only been living in Seoul for a few months, I knew these two stylish Frenchies would already have sniffed out the best places in the city. Valentine was kind enough to answer a few questions about life in Seoul and share some of her top recommendations.

  • Seoul
    Cafe Novel

Emily: Why did you move to Seoul? 

Valentine: Last year, my boyfriend Julien was contacted by the European Commission to join an Executive Program (ETP) in Seoul. After living/working in Singapore for two years, we were excited about the opportunity to discover another dynamic Asian country. I quit my job in Singapore, packed my bags and got ready for a new adventure.

Right now, I am simply experiencing a new way of life: tasting new food, visiting new places, learning a new language and meeting new people. I am also looking for a job in marketing, as we would really like to stay in Korea for a while.

Emily: Describe the city. 

Valentine: The city is so different from any other place I’ve been. Without visiting Seoul, it’s hard to imagine just how vibrant the city is: full of energy, craziness and inspiration.

This is the world’s second largest metropolitan area: half of South Korea’s population lives in Seoul and its surroundings. In this city, there is always a new place to discover, and from one subway station to another, you feel like you’re in a totally different place. Now that spring has started, a new life has begun; cherry blossoms are everywhere and people are enjoying outdoor activities.

In the morning, stop by a nice Korean coffee shop before heading to Dongdaemun in the afternoon (Note: For shopping addicts, malls are opened all night in this area). The fancy Gangnam area or the expat Itaewon area are both great for meeting up with friends for an evening drink.

Koreans are very welcoming, always helping you, even if they don’t speak English. But most young Koreans speak English very well, and they are always full of creativity and energy.

Emily: Top Places to Visit in Seoul?

Sinsa-Dong

Valentine: This area is the new “trendy” place for shopping and coffee shops and restaurants. Also called the ‘artists street’ thanks to many designer stores. Garosu-gil Street exhibits western architecture with nice shops and trees.

THE NOVEL CAFE

If you want to find a cool cafe with Californian food and a nice terrace, look for a small alley off of Garosugil Street called “The Novel Café”. Highly recommend having a beer here after shopping, or coming in for a nice Sunday brunch.
Directions: 135-889 Sinsadong 534-5 (Garosu- Gil)

MUG FOR RABBIT

If you want grab a delicious hot or cold tea or coffee on the same street, the best pace to stop is “Mug for rabbit”, a three storey coffee shop that becomes fully outdoor during spring and summer.  Directions: 534-25 Sinsa-dong (Garosu- Gil)
To go there (Garosugil street): Sinsa Station (Line 3 – Orange), Exit 8. Go straight (250m), until you see the street on the left.

Samcheongdong-gil

I fell in love with this neighborhood when we visited Seoul a year ago. The area is full of fashion shops, stylish restaurants and coffee places, but still has a very casual and laid-back feel. Its a great escape from the other crowed places in Seoul. Walk down the tiny streets to find plenty of small traditional houses.

BREEZIN

Head to the rooftop for a drink and enjoy the view of the mountains. Fun for a first date 😉 Directions: 63-12 Samcheong-dong, Jongno-gu

Itaewon

This district is the US military base where you can find loads of foreign restaurants, offering everything from tacos to eggs Benedict.

FLOWER GIN BAR

One part flower shop, one part gin bar. This has become one of our favourite spots to have a Hendricks gin and tonic (for a really good price).
Directions: Flower Gin Bar: 684 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan –Gu

CASABLANCA MOROCCAN SANDWICHES

After you’ve had a couple drinks and are starting to feel hungry, head to ‘Casablanca Moroccan Sandwiches’ where the owners, Wahid and Karim Naciri, are preparing the best sandwiches in Seoul! The ‘Moroccan Chicken Sandwich’ is a real must try for only 4,000 Won (2,70 Euros – 2,30 pounds). Open really late.
Directions: Yongsan-gu Yongsan 2(i)ga-dong 44-8, Haebangchon

Noryangjin

The Noryangjin fish market is a huge place where you can find more than 800 seafood items. Once you’ve picked and bought your fish of choice, head to one of the restaurants located in the market and they’ll cook it for you! A fun and truly delicious experience!
Directions: Noryangjin Station (Subway Line 1) and then exit 1

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