After spending a sunny weekend afternoon exploring the dusty alleys of Bangsan Market – known for its incredible range of baking supplies – we decided to rest our feet at the nearby Horangii cafe located inside Sewoon Plaza, a timeworn shopping mall that used to be Korea’s first electronic market back in 1968.
Today the place is a maze of identical looking stores crammed with audio devices, security cameras, room heaters, TVs, air conditioners, electric fans, arcade games and a vast selection of light fixtures. Because everything looks alike it’s easy to get lost, which we did, several times before finally locating the staircase that led us to the third floor where the scene was noticeably different – one made of trendy cafes, eateries, shiny boutiques and a flock of hipsters posing outside Horangii, clicking selfies.
Once inside, the cafe reminded me of the poignant setting of my fav Wong Kar-wai film – In the mood for Love. The narrow and dimly lit space with pale yellow walls, dark wood furniture and vintage lamps evoked nostalgia.
In stark contrast to this plush setting, the stained wall exterior, exposed wires, and the air-conditioning units were a lot of fun to sketch. The shopping plaza overlooks old print shops and metal workshops with tin roofs. Loud banging noises interjected the hum of conversations from time to time which seemed like a part of the setting.
We found a table right outside the cafe from where we enjoyed our lattes and scones. Interestingly, each coffee cup comes with a sticker of a tiger (or Horangii in Korean) which you can peel off and take home as a keepsake!
Before leaving we walked over to the skywalk and soaked in the sweeping views of the ever-changing Euljiro skyline with its old buildings – some still standing while others already demolished with rapid construction underway. Below, the streets were packed with cars and Cheonggyecheon stream flowing right through the middle of this urban jungle, reflected the cloudy sky.
Content that the day couldn’t get any better, we took the bus home, which is where I spotted this lady wearing the neatest pair of frilly white socks with little hearts on them! The edgy black loafers complemented her delicate side-slit pastel dress. From where I was sitting, I couldn’t see her face but remember seeking refuge from time to time in the visual delight of those little red hearts on that boring 40 mins bus ride.