"The Brooklyn of Seoul" is the Hidden Gem of Seoul

by Larissa Tsui

Did you know there’s a hidden gem spot in Seoul called the ‘Brooklyn of Seoul?’ For decades, this area was home to a number of small to medium-sized factories 🏭 There were countless factories here, but many have been abandoned with not many people here either. Now, many cafes, specialty shops and workshops have occupied these old factory and warehouse spaces. This area, called Seongsu-dong, at a glance, looks old and run down, but look a little deeper and you will find Seoul’s best-kept secret 🤫 Homing the delicate balance of old and new, since the recreation of this area, it has become Seoul’s hidden gem and a popular spot for Seoulites 💎


The charm of Seongsu-dong is its delicate balance between the old and the new - keeping the stories of the original buildings whilst creating new stories without losing its history. One of the first people to see the possibilities of this industrial area was a man called Hong Dong Hee. He bought a half-century-old dye factory and transformed it into what is now one of the most popular spots in Seongsu-dong. Maintaining the rundown outer and main structures of the interior, he converted an old factory into a 2-storey industrial-chic cafe called Grandpa Factory that holds the stories of both the old and new 🏭➡️☕️ Hong Dong Hee, being a woodworker and artist, Grandpa Factory boasts an expansive area with outdoor seats in the yard and rooftop, to indoor seats on both the first and second floor with remarkable large wooden tables and modern artwork all around. But I think the most eye-catching and well-known attraction here is the treehouse! 🌳 You can fulfil your childhood dream of living in a tree house here. To prove its impressiveness, it’s even been featured in a number of shows such as Vincenzo and How Do You Play? (Hangout with Yoo).


Walking through the streets of Seongsu-dong, you can explore the past, present, and future too! Host to the Pow! Wow! event in 2019, a contemporary art event, you’ll find art and murals decorating the streets of Seongsu-dong. If contemporary art is right up your alley, this is the place for you because in between the endless choices of cafe hopping, there are countless art exhibitions all around this area to marvel at 🖼 One is Veranda Industrial which is a free art museum that was once an abandoned factory given a new life to it by a local interior design firm. On the outside, it just looks like an old metalworking building, but inside, it showcases a display of query and imaginative artwork that changes regularly for you to check out whenever you are in the area. It is a popular location for photoshoots, and the rooftop of this artistic building was the home of Lee Eun-oh (Kim Jiwon) in the Netflix K-drama Lovestruck in the City too. 


Industrial-chic cafes are not the only things you can endlessly explore in the area, but food also. Particularly, this place called Grandma’s Recipe which was featured as a Michelin Guide’s recommendation. So, you know it's not to be missed out on! As you may expect from the name, Grandma’s Recipe serves traditional Korean home-cooked dishes. Owned by a couple whose aim is to provide a taste of home to their customers, they offer a menu of comfort food that will just warm your soul. Another food spot I have to mention is Seongsu-dong Galbi Alley. As one of the best-kept secrets among the locals, you can ravish the authentic vibes of outdoor street dining here on a street lined with Korean barbeque restaurants. Korean barbeque may be found everywhere, but this street’s restaurants boast a stunning history of 40 years. Each restaurant is filled with old-school metal foldable tables and plastic chairs for the most authentic Korean barbeque outdoor dining experience. After a hearty meal, why not walk the fullness off at Seoul Forest? It’s right outside Galbi Alley and is Seoul’s third-largest park. 


Since the recreation of this once seen as an abandoned area, it’s potential and popularity has sky-rocketed and many major brands have set up branches and showrooms here. You’ve heard of brands like Laneige, Innisfree and Sulhwasoo, right? The owner of major brands like these, Amorepacific opened a beauty lounge in Seongsu-dong to offer customers an enhanced beauty experience. In Amore Seongsu, you can find Seongsu Garden, Seongsu Market, Seongsu flower shop, Osulloc Cafe and various services that are only available in this branch. What makes this branch special is the jaw-dropping man-made stream that goes down the middle of the showroom. You can relax in the garden lounge where you can try on their beauty products to your heart's content whilst experiencing all the other services they offer and basking in the views of the lush garden outside 🫶


Seongsu-dong is a place that showcases the beauty of time through its well-balanced merge of old and new which is not to be missed! The many old buildings that have been repurposed into industrial-chic establishments in harmony with modern ones unveil its own sense of uniqueness and creativity. The transformation has made it a favourite and popular go-to spot for young people. Seongsu-dong is more quiet and calm compared to the busy, bustling places like Gangnam and Hongdae, which makes it a great place to visit for chill time. Countless cafes that double up as art exhibitions and mini-workshops where you can explore new hobbies makes it a must-visit spot! ❤️‍🔥

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