Hannam-dong, where art and culture meet

Written by on February 10, 2011 in Arts

Hannam-dong has long been considered one of the best residential areas in Seoul, conveniently located at the heart of the city, flanked by Mt. Namsan and the Han River. Located near Itaewon, a well-known and ethnically diverse area, Hannam-dong has remained primarily a foreign residential area, while preserving its unique and cozy atmosphere.

However, with the recent opening of Comme des Garçons’s artsy flagship store and the rise of other modern architectural features in the area, more travelers and curious Seoulites are visiting Hannam-dong‘s new shopping and art centers.

Leeum (747-18, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, www.leeum.org)

Located in a hilly residential area, Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art an impressive collection of cultural treasures and modern works of art in its innovative complex, designed by three of the world’s most internationally acclaimed architects: Mario Botta, Jean Nouvel and Rem Koolhaas.

The architecture itself only is worth exploring

Artworks on display include everything from historic Korean Buddhist paintings and celadon to masterpieces by Mark Rothko, Gerhardt Richter and Nam June Paik.

What a present! On view is an installation of Jeff Koons’ meticulously crafted artwork, “Smooth Egg with Bow”

With both contemporary and modern works, the exhibits demonstrate Korea’s rich culture and heritage. Leeum is holding a special exhibition entitled, “Memories of the Future.” It showcases cutting-edge works by Korean and international artists, including Sophie Calle, Michael Lin, Shin Meekyoung, Gimhongsok and Jackson Hong.

Translation Moon Vases by Korean artist Shin Meekyoung – Shin had created a replacement moon vase out of soap

If you liked Shin’s artworks above, you might want to try this for sure!

“Memories of the Future” runs through Feb. 13. You’ve got three more days! Do not miss this wonderful exhibition!

Comme des Garçons Flagship Store Hannam (739-1 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul)

Last August, Comme des Garçons opened its first Korean flagship store to house all 13 Comme des Garçons lines.

Comme des Garçons Flagship Store Hannam (Courtesy of Samsung Cheil Industries Inc.)

Designed by Rei Kawakubo, who launched the brand in 1981 with the “Paris” collection, the new building features the brand’s iconic dotty glass façade. Kawakubo’s avant-garde designs are beautifully displayed in the retail spaces. Its seven stories are linked by sloping tunnels where special products and “not-for-sale” hats designed by Stephen Jones are displayed.

Rose Bakery located on the ground floor of Comme des Garçons Flagship Store

Comme des Garçons also has a bakery on the ground floor. The basement houses the SIX Gallery and admission is free.


b_shop (739-4 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, www.parkplusyoo.com)

b_shop is a concept store run by fashion designer and visual marketing director Park Suuwu and architect Ehwa Yoo.

The store wants to promote a new modern Korean lifestyle through a space where organic gastronomy and eco-friendly fashion merge.

A space where organic gastronomy and eco-friendly fashion merge

Aside from the wonderfully decorated restaurant, the project space offers a wide range of designer arts and crafts which combine the essence of Korean traditional crafts with modern styles.

b_shop offers a wide range of designer arts and crafts, as well as good food!

The concept store also has the newest SUUWU collections by Park Suuwu. SUUWU launched in 2009, and blends Korean traditional aesthetics with modern styles.


SUUWU Collection

Inside b_shop

What makes SUUWU special is its use of Hanji, a traditional Korean mulberry paper, as the basis for a wearable modern garment.

SUUWU collection made of Hanji, a traditional Korean mulberry paper

Meanwhile, b_shop organized its first art exhibition in August 2010, a solo show by Itami Jun called “Prototype,” and plans to host more exhibitions in the future.


Takeout Drawing (683-139 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, www.takeoutdrawing.com)

Project Space Takeout Drawing is a multifunctional cultural space serving up both organic fair-trade coffee and a creative environment.

Can you read what’s written on the wall?

The café also functions as an exhibition space where everyday life coincides with arts and culture in a sustainable way.


Artist Kiosk

So far, it has hosted 25 exhibitions and run residency programs giving artists two months to use the space to create their works.

Bokyung Jun’s artwork on display

Unlike other institutionalized art residency programs, the process here integrates the audience/consumers who visit the café. At the end of the residency program, the works created during that time are exhibited in the café.

Whether you’re a resident or just visiting, be sure to swing by and discover the artistic delights of Hannam-dong!

Hi there, come visit us at Hannam-dong!

About the Author

Dana Hwang

Dana specializes in contemporary art and culture, and has contributed to the Korea.net as a staff writer. As a Master of Arts graduate in Art Business from the Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York and a prior retail executive of Louis Vuitton Korea, she is particularly interested in corporations’ commitment to promote art and culture, the role of audience in contemporary art practice, and discovering new cultures while travelling around the world