The story of the Jukjeon café street started with rumors. I had returned from GEPIK (Gyeonggi English Program in Korea) orientation in the middle of April 2010 with a few hundred other foreign teachers, and about a dozen or more of us were left in Jukjeon station, as that was a central transit point for all of us. We were all wondering what to do… whether to hang out for a while or just go home after a busy few days. One guy had a great idea. He had heard about or past by a tiny neighborhood with many cafés not very far from the station, somewhere to the south. It was a really nice place, and everybody would like it! But somehow, the group didn’t agree, and we all went our separate ways. But I remembered that rumor, and soon it would become a pleasant and repeating reality.
And then the story of the Jukjeon café street really got started with… can you guess? The best and most memorable place of all, the outstanding I’m Home. So of course, this is required reading for any review of the Jukjeon café street. This isn’t the star, but it is the brightest of many stars there. So Sunday, May 2, 2010, was a great introduction to the Jukjeon café street, and it’s hardly ever gone downhill from there.
So what is so special about this café street? It’s not just the coffee! Though there are many many cafés to be found, and we’ll get to that soon. And actually, it’s not just a street. It’s a series of streets: a main north-south road that stretches for four blocks with side streets branching out east and west. So it’s a collection of eight blocks of cafés and restaurants with most of the action going on in the middle. The middle street is a tree-lined street evocative of a European town. Definitely not in the architecture, but in the way you can calmly walk along the street, enjoying the trees, the smells, the restaurants, and people-watching. Families are walking around, couples are walking around, and there is rarely the worry of cars running you down. Shall we see what it looks like?
Okay, that’s a little bit before my time even. But that pretty clearly shows you the eight blocks, all practically empty and ready for future construction except for the bottom two. The main road is the light gray line down the middle. The circle at the top that looks like a smiling electrical outlet is a future skate park, and the five blocks to the right later became an extension to the main café street. But let’s fast forward to today, shall we? And then I’ll settle down to proper narrative / chronological order.
Well, the first few times I went to the Jukjeon café street, I wrote about it by calling it “the cute area behind Jukjeon”. Yeah, it’s cute… and relaxing and peaceful. And slow-paced. The walkable streets and the trees and the small scale of buildings invite you to linger and explore slowly. From I’m Home I slowly expanded to Beansbins across the street, visiting both places a few times with friends. Spring came, and the trees bloomed and created an even more attractive vista, as well as providing much needed shade during the intense heat of the summer. So let’s go explore this cute area. Why is it the Jukjeon café street?
Starting from the north and walking south, the aforementioned Beansbins has always been an anchor there, in 2010 and still today in 2016. Across from Beansbins, on the left side, was Tomo Tome, and that survived for many years before becoming Gugliemo, and now some sort of variety store. Walk a few steps south, and here is I’m Home on the left. Across from I’m Home there was another café called Coffee on Brunch. In late 2013 or early 2014 this became Café & More. So just in the first block we’ve seen four cafés.
Continuing down the street, some restaurants start coming into the mix. There used to be a restaurant called Borboni Bis but it’s now Plate 607, a place where time can stop for 60 seconds… And across the street is a clothing store or two. A little further down, there is Café yaang, and across from that is Eco’s Caffé, inspired by Umberto Eco, and a place that had a little magic outside for a day. By now you’re thinking, time stopping?? Magic?! Have you lost it, CaféSeaSeo? Bear with me, dear readers, there is a logical explanation to all of this, which I’ll get to below. But I don’t deny that there is a certain magic in the air in this little corner of Yongin.
Still wandering southward, there is now a place called Selecto Coffee, and a fancy Italian restaurant called vini e oli has been another anchor there. There is cafe yu:l, also known as café 율, across from a 7 Eleven. Towards the end of the street, there was a very unappealingly bright Coffee Bean. And with a few more restaurants and shops, you reach the very busy road 죽전로.
So, how many cafés is that so far? I count nine. A decent amount. But! We didn’t explore the side streets! Remember, there are the east and west branches off the main street, and there are quite a few cafés here too. But there seems to have been more churn, more turnover, along these side streets over the past six years. A lot of cafés have come and gone. Just to name a few, there are or were Coffee On, Coffee Forêt, appassionato, Tapioca Factory, and Coffee Roasters Double Shot. And there are many others. Ah, and a super flashy browny 70 opened there in 2014. Caffé Bene used to be at the southeast corner, but as they’ve declined in popularity, they are no longer there.
There is also the eastern area, the extension to the main café street. This area had a place called kiss the espresso, one of the first branches of café DROPTOP, and more.
Oh, have you noticed that I’ve neglected to mention Starbucks? Yup, they don’t have a store at the Jukjeon café street! Which I’m quite pleased with. But……. Starbucks did notice what was going on there and opened a branch across the street from죽전로 around 2012 or so.
So as you can see, you can spend a whole day here doing nothing but going to cafés and drinking coffee. Wow! A coffee marathon! What a brilliant idea…
But… I’ll stick to my usual maximum of two coffees a day, except in rare circumstances, thank you very much.
So if you really want to try lots of great coffee in a variety of cafés, the Jukjeon café street is definitely for you! And that’s not even considering that it’s a beautiful area. The trees that were planted late in the 2000s are now fairly mature. West and north of the café street is the branch of the Tancheon that actually comes from Cheongdeok (my original neighborhood if you haven’t read some of my earlier posts), and joins with its Suji-gu origin branch just a few meters north of the café street. If you want to go for a stroll along a stream, the Jukjeon café street is a great place to start or finish, as I’ve done many times. Just north of the café street, just north of a new desperately needed parking lot, is a skate park, so if you’re into skateboarding, this place is for you too. And to the northeast is a little forested hill, a breath of fresh air amid the urban landscape, and a small break from coffee. Or, you might take some coffee there with you. ^^
Dear reader, are you learning Korean? Well, sometimes you need to learn some Chinese characters too, to learn Korean well. Let’s look at the meaning of Jukjeon. Jukjeon in Korean is, of course, 죽전. But, as a friend taught me, 죽 (juk) comes from the Chinese character 竹, meaning bamboo, and 전 (jeon) comes from 田, meaning field. So, bamboo fields! But… it looks nothing like this now. Once upon a time, I suppose, Jukjeon was home to a very special tribe of Kung Fu pandas who feasted upon delicious and fragrant bamboo… but this time has passed. We are now in the time of coffee roasters and coffee drinkers, and the occasional CaféSeaSeo stopping by.
And then there was the stopping of time and the magic in the air.
Okay, the logical explanation. Just skip this paragraph if you don’t like logic. 😉 On February 28, 2011 (and possibly other days too), a scene from a movie was filmed at the Jukjeon café street, and I happened to stumble upon this magical scene. Well, okay, there was no magic, and not even any special effects. It was just a simple scene in front of Eco’s Caffé. But this movie’s name was 오싹한 연애 (Chilling Romance), known as Spellbound in English. The two lead actors, Son Ye-jin and Lee Min-ki, were filming a scene. I had no idea who they were at the time, but I watched for a while and took discreet pictures. Like these:
Spellbound came out in December 2011, and I finally saw it in December 2012 with a friend, and learned about the actors then. See, I found the same scene:
[May 2017 VIDEO UPDATE!
As I’ve now created a YouTube account specifically for CaféSeaSeo videos, I can now link to the video I took that day in February 2011:
Back to the original post from October 2016:]
And now, about those disturbances in the Space-Time Continuum. In 2012, Kim Sung Kyu came out with a song called 60sec. The music video for this romantic rock song that depicts a romantic disturbance in time was filmed at the Jukjeon café street! Specifically, around and inside the restaurant Plate 607. I wasn’t there for the filming, but I immediately recognized the neighborhood when I first saw the song’s video.
So yeah, the Jukjeon café street has been a popular place in popular culture too.
A few other odds and ends… To commemorate its status as the premier café street in Korea (I suppose?), they… someone… installed a giant sculpture of a coffee cup surrounded by rocks near the northern entrance. Then, to further cement their reputation, they… someone… installed a giant blue coffee mug at the western end of the street. And for my second year in Korea, I lived about a 15 minute walk from the Jukjeon café street. That was a pleasant year ^^.
To sum up, if you’re in or around Seoul, go visit the Jukjeon café street if you haven’t already!
Here are a few more pictures from the past six years:
Getting to the Jukjeon café street is easy! You can:
- Walk or ride a bike from anywhere along the Tancheon, even as far north as Olympic Stadium or Cheongdam.
- Take the Bundang Line from as far north as Wangsimni, the Sinbundang Line from Gangnam followed by the Bundang Line (transfer at Jeongja), and now even the just-opened (in September 2016) Gyeonggang Line from as far east as Yeoju followed by the Bundang Line (transfer at Imae). Get off at Jukjeon station and… well, it gets a little complicated from there. Follow your mapping service of choice to the… Bojeong-dong Café Street. Um, yeah. Even though everyone calls it the Jukjeon café street and it’s very close to Jukjeon station, the Korean mapping services label it as the “보정동 카페거리”. It is officially in Bojeong-dong, as the map below shows. Maps gotta keep things official, I guess.
The address of the Jukjeon café street, using I’m Home as a reference point, is 경기도 용인시 기흥구 죽전로15번길 16-1.
Here’s a link to a Google Map to find the Jukjeon café street.
Have a nice visit!
– CaféSeaSeo, aka the Jukjeon tourism organization ㅋㅋㅋ
Final verdict: *****
Update! – November 13, 2016
A fellow blogger, Cakes of Regret, has also written a nice post about the Jukjeon / Bojeong café street, and was also kind enough to link to my I’m Home post. Check it out!