Hyangmok Baik in Seoul

Hyangmok Baik in Seoul

Hyangmok Baik takes us to places that have shaped his vision of paradise.

3 min read

Hyangmok Baik City Guide in Seoul

This is an Avant Arte City Guide in collaboration with Trippin World.

For Hyangmok Baik, the perfect way to spend a summer’s day in Seoul is having “a cold beer with your friends by the Han River”.

During the pandemic, those peaceful days by the river seemed like a distant memory. So he started transposing them onto canvas, creating a utopia based on principles of pleasure and coming together. Now that lockdown restrictions have been lifted, Hyangmok takes us on a tour of his rediscovered paradise.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

The colours here have found their way into my art

Find inspiration in the cultural history of Gyeongbokgung Palace – where the King once kept his office. The palette of Hyangmok’s dreamy creations were influenced by the yellows, blues and greens of the traditional tiles.

Hyangmok walking around the Gyeongbokgung Palace
Details of the Gyeongbokgung Palace

I saw a different side of the city during my military service

During this time he frequented the nearby MMCA Gallery. Here, he got a taste of the kind of art that he wanted to create before going back to school in 2019 for his MFA.

While in the area, Hyangmok also recommends visiting the Hyundai Music Library. With a collection of 10,000 vinyl records, it is a music lover’s dream. Then drop by cafe Onground with it's neighbouring gallery and underground music bar.

Hyangmok stading outisde the MMCA Gallery
Seoul's Music Library shot from the outside


The view from this gate is beautiful at night

Before Hyangmok became an artist, he completed his mandatory military service. He was stationed at Sukjeongmun, one of the Four Great Gates to the old city of Seoul. It’s not a well-kept secret, but will always hold a special place in Hyangmok’s heart as a connection to his personal history and the history of the city. Go there at night for breathtaking views over the whole city.


If I could only eat one meal a day, I would eat bibimbap.

Sometimes, paradise is a warm bowl of food and Seoul has no shortage of options. Hyangmok’s favourite is bibimbap – a rice dish topped usually with vegetables, sliced meat and a fried egg. Try the mussel bibimbap, costing around ₩1600. You might have to wait in a queue but the meal and service is worth it.

Hyangmok eating mussel bibimbap at Cheungsujeong
Hyangmok eating mussel bibimbap at Cheungsujeong

Pocha street in Jongno

As anyone who knows Korean nightlife knows, I once sat and drank here from 7pm to 7am the next morning.

If you’re in a hurry, there are plenty of Pojangmacha (Pocha) streets across the city. Pull up a chair along the sidewalk, or under a tent for cheap eats and flowing drinks with locals. Hyangmok’s favourite is the Pocha street in Jongno. Seats are hard to get on weekends, so he recommends “going a little earlier in the evening or after you've finished your meal.”

Hyangmok eating with a friend at Pocha Street
Detail of food and drinks at Pocha Street in Seoul


I could spend a whole day at Leeum Gallery

The first place that Hyangmok wanted to visit post-lockdown was Hannam – to peruse the neighbourhood’s trendy art galleries. Hannam has become the artistic heart of Seoul – home to the likes of Pace Gallery and Gallery Jouen.

Hyangmok’s favourite is Leeum Gallery. It has one of the largest collections in the city encompassing traditional Korean and global contemporary art. The Journey of White Light exhibition hall on the third floor is unmissable. Don't miss Buncheong ware -unique porcelain made only in Korea in the 15th and 16th centuries, showcasing the original form of Korean beauty.

Art piece at Leeum Gallery in Seoul
Hyangmok walking behind an art piece at Leeum Gallery in Seoul

But before he gets to the galleries, a coffee at Anthracite – an experimental coffee house set against brutalist interior architecture. The coffee house is also open late for night owls.

Anthracite Hannam building from the outside
Hyangmok drinking coffee outside in the street

It is easy to get along with people you meet for the first time while drinking soju.

According to Hyangmok, Hannam is also a great place to meet locals. So grab a seat at a crowded bar or a restaurant, and the ice will surely melt away after one or two glasses of this rice-based liquor. Nari is famous for its frozen pork belly, so you can bond over Korean barbecue as well as Soju.

Then take friends, both old and new, down to the banks of the Han River for those long-promised beers in paradise.

Nari's House from the outside
Hyangmok and friend toasting at Nari's House in Seoul

Photographer: Jun Lee @junleephotos

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