The industrial heart of Seoul during the city’s postwar economic boom in the 1960s, Euljiro Street is home to alleyways packed with thousands of bustling manufacturing workshops. These backstreets now boast hidden bars, cafés and trendy stores that are mostly clustered around the Euljiro 3-ga subway station. Visit now before it’s too late, as the neighborhood’s prime location in central Seoul means sizeable sections will be lost to redevelopment projects in the coming decade.
No two chairs are alike at After Jerk Off, a speakeasy café that boasts an assortment of retro lamps and a hypnotic fish-tank bar. The space, which opened in February, is just south of Euljiro 3-ga station and hides on the fourth floor of a nondescript building behind an unmarked white door. Classic hip-hop emanates from the speakers while large windows offer commanding views over the area’s mismatch of rooftops and skyscrapers. Try the signature Jerk Coffee, a smooth blend of drip coffee, sweet cream and a pinch of smoked salt.
You’ll find this one-year-old bookstore nestled among Euljiro’s electronics stores and repair workshops in Sewoon Sangga, one of South Korea’s oldest shopping malls. The simple set-up has undeniably charming surroundings. “If you look to the left outside of the store, there’s a beautiful mountainscape,” says founder Sungho Kim, who enjoys the visual contrasts offered by the location. “Look right, and you see crazy skyscrapers and busy city life.” Besides Korean literature, you’ll find here a tempting selection of souvenir alternatives, such as retro posters and funky apparel.