There is this amazing little neighbourhood near Jongno station. When I found it I spent hours just walking up and down the tiny pedestrian only lanes, each one lined with little shops and restaurants and each one more intriguing than the next. This area, called Ikseon-dong and jungsegwon was established in 1920. It is a collective housing area that is full the Hanoks, the traditional Korean houses, but many have been reconstructed on the inside to house modern restaurants, shops, cafes, bars as well as homes and offices. Very few tourists venture this way, I seemed to be the only one, but it is a very obvious favourite with the locals, in particular young professionals.
After making the rounds several times I kept passing Madang Flowers. This beautiful space is both flower shop and café at the same time. The outside alone is so stunning that it was difficult to get past all the selfie taking locals to get into the front door. Inside the tables have been arranged around the flower displays which are all for sale. In one corner there is a barista preparing drinks while in the other there is a florists putting together her creations. The floor is covered in (fake) grass and there are fairy lights twinkling everywhere. K pop is playing in the background.
The hot chocolate was pretty awful. Usually when I have bad hot chocolates I don’t bother writing about them. I had two sips and then left the whole cup on the table. More than one thing was off, but I didn’t really care, I just took the time to admire the cafe. I planned out how I would make this my new office, where I would put my desk, even where the cats could take their naps. It is such a gorgeous space and I just wanted to share it, and the neighbourhood with you.
Ikseon-dong was one of the highlights of my trip. The locals are very protective of it and local shop owners meet regularly to share ideas about how to prevent big chains and too many tourists from visiting and changing it. Visit but provide it with the same respect you provide your own neighbourhood. They have done something really special here and I hope it lasts for a very long time.