Insider Guide; Seoul, South Korea

By Jo Phillips

With its modern skyscrapers, innovative technology, and colourful K-Pop videos, South Korea’s international profile is a metropolis based on creativity and style.

GEAR3 is a luxury Korean luggage brand which places performance and materialistic functionality at the forefront of its ethos by encompassing minimal but well considered designs. We spoke to Saen Park, the Seoul-based fashion designer and creator of men’s accessories brand, GEAR3.

As an aspiring bag designer from a young age, Park majored in visual design and was awarded New Upcoming Designer at the Seoul Design Festival. Park was scouted by South Korean label, SSAMZIE, before establishing GEAR3 in 2008.


What are your favourite bars to chill at after a stressful day?

I am currently based in Hongdae, an area of Seoul best known for its urban, arts, and indie music culture and home to Hongik University, one of the most well-regarded architecture and art institutions in South Korea.

As Hongdae is regarded as the youth-culture hub of the capital, there are plenty of bars to choose from. T:M is my current neighbourhood local. They offer an extensive wine list, a variety of single malt whiskeys, cocktails, and exquisite gourmet food.
Address: 25-29, Dangin-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul



Krämerlee is special, because they brew their beer. On summer nights, people arrive in crowds to sit outside. As indicated by the German name, this bar offers a simple menu of six craft beers and four food dishes.
Address:368-27, Hapjeong-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul

Do you have a selection of restaurants which you frequently visit?

Locanda mongro is a personal favourite of mine. Owned and operated by Chef Chan II Park, the restaurant produces incredible food using traditional Italian cooking methods but with Korean ingredients.  I often read Chef Park’s essays and have been a longtime admirer of his cooking.
Address: B1F, 377-20, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul

Whilst we are on the subject of Italian food, Sangsudong yangsickdang also deserves to be mentioned!
Address: 30-3, Dangin-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul.


Dangin sickdang is a small Korean restaurant which serves traditional healthy dishes made from local ingredients. This restaurant is a true authentic taste of Korea!
Address: 2F, 25-22, Dangin-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul



Are there any galleries you like to visit in your spare time?

Gallery Factory is a small gallery which is always worth a visit. The gallery collaborates with both domestic and foreign contemporary artists, designers, and performerson a regular basis.
Address: 127-3, Changseong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul

MMCA is Korea’s National Museum and Contemporary Art. The national museum is split over 4 different locations around South Korea, including one in Seoul. The MMCA in Seoul incorporates the madang, a courtyard found in traditional Korean houses. The museum’s individual buildings are arranged around 6 open spaces.
Address: 165, Sogeok-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Sangsangmadang is a complex cultural space with an exhibition hall, a movie theatre, a gift shop, and performance halls. The 2nd and 3rd floors are typically used as gallery space whereas the downstairs area is often used to watch indie movies and local performances.
Address: 367-5 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Would you recommend any bookstores in the local area?

Thanks books is a small local bookstore and is very well known amongst the locals of Hongdae. It is small but substantial with a good selection on display.
Address: 367-13, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul

There are quite a few second hand book stores in Seoul, but the Aladin second-hand bookstore has a very good selection to rummage through (a selection of second hand bookstores in Seoul can be found here).

What about Clubs in the area?

Hongdae has become much more commercialised over the years, but it is still regarded as the only place for people to gather for music and nights out.

I personally don’t go to clubs any more, as they are popular amongst 20 year-olds. One of the oldest standing clubs in the area is MWG. They always have interesting themed parties or special events happening. The club has been in the same spot since 1996 which is very rare. One rumour about the club is that the club is haunted and quite a few people have reported seeing ghosts!

M2 is one of the oldest electronic clubs in the area. It has been open for 13 years, but is still very popular as the DJ’s are always good. For an alternative night out I would also suggest Su noraebang which is one of the oldest karaoke bars in Hongdae. The special thing about this place is the big windows in each of the rooms, so people can see you singing from outside.

I also visit Yri cafe which is run by former artists and musicians. Many creatives and musicians from the Hongdae area go to this cafe. They have a room with filled with art books, and if you are lucky, you can see an improvised small concert there.

There is definitely more to Hongdae than meets the eye. There are a lot of small hidden alleys where you can walk around, discover hidden gems, and truly immerse yourself in the beautiful city of Seoul.


GEAR3’s luggage collection is rich with purpose and unparalleled performance. To view it online click here.

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