“Instagram, or it didn’t happen.” In a world where social media reigns supreme, we find ourselves obsessing over the most photogenic spots no matter where in the world we go. Thanks to Seoul’s growing coffee shop scene, café-hopping has reached a whole new level and is now considered a feast for your eyes just as much as it is for your belly. Here are five Insta-worthy concept cafés in Seoul that your feed will thank you for!
Ever wondered what it feels like to live inside a comic book? Greem Café, also known as Café Yeonnam-dong 223-14, lets you experience just that with its black-and-white cartoonish interiors. Every inch of the ‘drawing café’—from its walls and floors to the tables and chairs, and even the drip mugs and cutleries—is outlined in thick brush strokes for the ultimate two-dimensional illusion.
The concept was inspired by the owner’s favourite television series called W: Two Worlds, where the main characters cross over from the real world into an alternate webtoon universe. While the café is small, considering how the crowds build up throughout the day, it also features a rooftop deck following the same monochrome aesthetic, complete with a series of washing lines that hang flat illustrated clothing.
Greem Café, 223-14 Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
There’s no way you’ll miss the flagship store of fashion and beauty brand Stylenanda in Myeongdong: It screams pink in all of its six-storey glory. Patterned after the Wes Anderson film The Grand Budapest Hotel, the 1950s-style building has floors dedicated to cosmetic and skincare products, clothes and accessories, and a swimming pool-themed café.
True to its name, the diner-like Pink Pool Café is decked out in swimming pool tiles, metal tables and chairs with beach umbrellas, neon lights, and wall signages. On warm days, its signature cotton candy offerings are better enjoyed at the rooftop lounge lined with oversized pillows. If you’re looking for a real swimming pool, though, you may want to visit the bigger branch in Hongdae instead, which boasts an indoor poolside area.
Stylenanda Pink Pool Café, 37-8 Myeongdong 8-gil, Chungmuro 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Literally translating to “vending machine,” Zapangi Café is famed for its iconic pink vending machine door that floats in the middle of a concrete wall. It is the most popular coffee shop in Mangwon, a fast-rising neighbourhood soon to join the ranks of Hongdae as one of the city’s trendiest districts.
Many flock to Zapangi for the sole purpose of taking a photo by the entrance, but you’ll find there is more to this café when you step inside its minimalist industrial interiors. Don’t be fooled by such simplicity—Zapangi ingeniously fuses its ‘tins and bottles’ tagline into colourful creations, such as the mermaid and unicorn-themed tin can cakes, and milk tea specialities served in corked glass bottles.
Zapangi Café, 400-2 Mangwon 1(il)-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Discover the wizarding world of Harry Potter at 943 King’s Cross, a café conveniently located in the heart of Hongdae that takes inspiration from the well-loved fantasy book and movie series. Before you even walk through its doors, you will be welcomed by the ‘broom parking’ photo zone, where you can pose with—or literally ride—a Quidditch broomstick.
The multi-storey brick building, which has a basement that houses the Hog’s Head Pub, promises a magical experience with its interactive themed floors. Aside from an entire wall reminiscent of the Ollivanders Wand Shop, the café also lets you wear your house through Hogwarts uniforms you can try on for free. It’s good to note that every guest is required to purchase at least one drink, so why not quench your thirst with the café’s own version of Butterbeer?
943 King’s Cross Café, 24 Yanghwa-ro 16-gil, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
It’s almost impossible to find a LINE FRIENDS store that doesn’t have a giant Brown stuffed toy sitting just by the entrance as if welcoming you in a warm, tight hug. Explore several floors of official LINE FRIENDS merchandise, pausing in between to take endless snaps at designated photo zones, before making a stop at the in-store café for a much-needed energy booster.
LINE FRIENDS is also home to BT21, a collaboration with global superstars BTS that brought to life eight unique characters created by the members themselves. Aside from LINE character pastries (the Brown mini-hotcakes are a win!), ice cream, and fruit juices, the café likewise features BT21-themed buns, hot and cold beverages, and flavoured sundaes. The menu can change without prior notice, especially with the turning of seasons, so prepare to be surprised each time you visit.
LINE FRIENDS Café & Store, locations across Seoul, South Korea