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Cafe Porn, Part 1: Hongdae

April 27, 2009

So guys, I have to admit something to you: I have a problem. Dating I could do without, drinking [alcohol] is kind of a shitty hobby anyway, but I cannot, for the life of me, stop ordering tea lattes in fancy cafes. They don’t even have to be particularly good (most of the time they’re not and they’re expensive to boot), but South Korea does the cool cafe thing so well, that’s it’s addicting. It’s kind of become something I do every time I have  a chance. I’m doing it right now!

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Cafe Lautrec, how you take advantage of the slim pickings of the area and become one of two places I go to in my own neighborhood. I’m actually not here right now though. I’m actually at Cafe Beyond, listening to Elliott Smith.

[Side Note: Do you know there was actually an Elliott Smith themed bar in Hongdae called Between the Bars? I think it closed because, well, it was between two other bars, and I don’t know about you, but when I think about Elliott Smith, I don’t exactly think “party”]

Anyway, I guess I should go into the background of cafes in South Korea. In short; they’re ridiculous. They’re kind of this embodiment of an ideal of what a hip cafe should be: excellent interior design, cool lighting, good music (err, most of the time) so much that it makes me a little uncomfortable. Not to mention there are a billion of them on a street corner in each of Seoul’s cafe hot spots: Hongdae, Samcheondong [North of Anguk station], Sinsa-dong in Apgujeong…. each with its own, no not flavor (because that is a stupid word not in a context of ice cream), but well, to use a word from a friend of a friend, its own “shtick”. I say this because there’s always something put-on and fake about their coolness (but then again, isn’t that always the case, with most things? God, I’m sick of people talking about the “real me,” or “finding our true selves,” though that’s a rant for another time and place)… yet is a fakeness that I really kind of appreciate because sometimes the idea of something is better than what something actually is. Like how Russell said once that South Koreans do European styles better than Americans (or even Europeans) because it’s not built from what is, in reality, but from an imagined fantasy of Europe. You know, like a theme park. Only your life. All the time. That’s what Korea’s like.

I’ve gotten off track. What I meant to say was, cafe interior design has become somewhat of an obsession. I guess in this post I’m going to highlight a couple cafes from Hongdae that I’ve found. These are mostly on the Westside of Hongdae, near where the clubs are, but more err, westerly, away from the clubs. Anyway, I found these while wandering around one night. It’s become one of my favorite neighborhoods.

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Godard Bar in Hongdae, although technically a uh, bar, the same basic idea. Plus they showcase movies every Sunday. Something to check out, if you can.

[Though, a problem is that there are so many of them, all bunched together. It gets exhausting, because you’ll see a cool place, and think “yeah, I want to go to that one!” but you’ll walk a couple more feet, and see another one, another one, and another one… It’s kind of gotten to the point where I wish I was served coffee that tasted like dirt in a box propped up with aluminum siding. But you know, not really.]

Yesterday, I went to a new place called Cafe Egon (named after Egon Schiele, someone who recently came up in a conversation about the hotties of the Vienna Secession, a club which there is probably one member). It was pretty nice. The outside has that kind of rustic bayou shack vibe and the inside has that vintage-y library/mad scientist hangout from the 19th century vibe. Plus there are a couple of Schiele paintings drawn on the walls. Anyway, I like it.

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Also of note is Cafe 405 (which I hope is named after the freeway), which has a nice outdoor patio that I haven’t had the chance to enjoy yet because the weather hasn’t been nice enough. Maybe next time.

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Anyway, maybe I should stop putting up pictures. Oh, I do have more. A lot more.

For my birthday I plan to go to this place called Ho Ho My Roll, a cafe that has a giant silver trailer in it, from which coffees are served. I think I’ve become too susceptible to cute quirk. But maybe I was always such a predictable person.

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One comment

  1. There are so many cute cafe’s in Hongdae… Have you been to Cafe 1010? Hello Kitty Cafe is definitely one my favourites though 🙂



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