Discovering Seoul’s “Hipster Heaven” through Art and Culture


A Bit of Background:

If you have a day to wander around Seongsu-dong (성수동), the eastern part of Seoul, you might find yourself in front of a neighborhood with old stainless steel structures, rusty industrial old buildings, and a regular interval of the sound of the subway as it passes through the elevated railway. This is because since the 60s, Seongsu-dong was designed to be a semi-industrial zone. Later on, it became a factory complex including plating factories, steel mills, wigs factories, sewing factories, and even shoe factories[1]. In the 1980s, Seongsu-dong was a go-to place for handmade shoes; at one time, about 1,200 shoemakers were gathered here.[2] This trend was kept until today, where you can see many shoemaking shops, shoe museums, and exhibitions.

Inside Seongsu Station

Inside Seongsu Station



If you look closer, many of the buildings have been renovated with a touch of trendy and hipster styles. For example, S-Factory is a renovated contemporary art gallery museum where it previously held famous boy band Big Bang’s 10th year anniversary exhibition. One of the exhibition currently going on at S-Factory is entitled: “Klimt Inside”. Please bear in mind that this isn’t the kind of exhibition where you go a look at still artworks; this one has technological elements integrated into the artworks, as well as interactive elements.

Source: Klimt Inside Official Facebook Page

There are six major works on display: End of Century, Ver Sacrum, Women, Stoclet Frieze, Later Colors, and KISS. Each section offers an unique insight into the Austrian symbolist painter. [3]

Gustav Klimt was born in Baumgarten, near Vienna in Austria-Hungary and is the second child of seven children. Klimt’s is known for his elegant fantastical gold paintings, often of phallic shapes that conceals the most erotic positions of the drawings such as “The Kiss”.[4]

Gustav Klimt: “The Kiss” (1907-1908) (Source:

In many of Kilmt’s artworks, the predominant theme is the femme fatale. He would also inspire himself from different styles including Egyptian, Minoan, Classical Greek, and Byzantine inspirations.[5]

When you enter the exhibition, you will be greeted by a black hall with small pictures on the ground moving in sync with the lighting showing the characters that have influenced Klimt.

Source: Klimt Inside Official Facebook Page

Then, you will see the three artworks: “Philosophy,” “Medicine” and “Jurisprudence” that Klimt was commissioned to create in 1894 to decorate the ceiling of the Great Hall at the University of Vienna.

The “Stoclet Frieze” exhibit is an LED screen show with moving art depicting the tree of life.

Source: Klimt Inside Official Facebook Page

Then, at some point on the staircase going up to the next exhibit, you will see the following:


Later, you will see paintings of peaceful scenery, which is quite unlike Klimt’s style of painting shown previously. This section, called “Later Colors,” is dedicated to awe-inspiring landscape paintings that were done during Klimt’s annual vacations to the shores of Attersee in Austria.[6]


The interactive section includes a virtual reality headset area, where you can experience a virtual reality of a Stoclet Palace dining room decorated with an artwork which Klimt was commissioned to create for a wealthy Belgian industrialist.

There is also a moving LED area, and a camera area where you can take a picture/selfie and then have it converted to look like a painting.[7]


At the end of the exhibition, there is a gift shop where you can buy all sorts of gifts, such as mugs, pens, notebooks, etc. all with Klimt’s artwork on them.

Ticket prices:

Adult: ₩12,000

Student: ₩10,000

Infant: ₩8,000

You will also get a 20% discount at the café inside S-Factory.

Running dates:


Running hours:

11am to 8pm



273-13 Seongsu-Dong 2-Ga, Seongdong-Gu, Seoul, Korea (서울특별시 성동구 성수동2가 273-13).

If you are going by subway, get off at Seongsu Station (성수역) exit 3, turn right then first left. Walk down about 250m and it will be on your right.

Source: Google Maps






Seongsu-dong is very famous nowadays for its jazzy cafés hidden within the old bricks and stained gray buildings of factories. My personal recommendations are the following:


1. CO:LUMN (대림창고)

In the 70s, this place used to be a rice mill. During the 90s, it was used as storage space. Last year, CO:LUMN opened its doors as a gallery concept café with a unique style. [8]The exterior of the building has been kept intact, but the interior was transformed into a quite surreal environment with a mix of nature, nostalgia, and modernity. I would strongly recommend you enjoy a cup of coffee here and indulge yourself in this special ambience. They also constantly change the exhibition, therefore the artwork you see will be different every time!


Drinks are between ₩5,000 and ₩9,000. On weekdays, the entrance is free. On weekends, there is a ₩10,000 entrance fee, but you get a free drink. The price is a little more on the higher end side, but it is worth spending the extra money to visit once!


Source: Google Maps

78 Seongsu-ro, Seongsu 2(i)-ga 1(il)-dong, Seongdong-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 성동구 성수2가1동 성수로 78)


2. Café Onion

This coffee shop also has a history of its own. Build in the 70s, it used to be a supermarket, a restaurant, a repair shop and most recently, a metal factory. This café is known for its wide-open interior retaining all its old, rustic and broken-down elements[9]. Moreover, during this season, the rooftop terrace is opened for people who like to enjoy a cup of coffee with a little wind blowing through and to watch the scenes surrounding the old factories.



It’s most popular Flat White drink is: ₩5,000.

It’s most popular Pain d’or ₩5,000.

Opening hours:

Mon-Fri 08:00-22:00, Sat-Sun 10:00-22:00


8, Achasan-ro 9-gil, Seongdong-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 성동구 아차산로 9길 8)

Source: Google Maps













Article by Ruby from Canada

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