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How to Eat, Drink and Gallery Hop Like a Seoul Local

How to Eat, Drink and Gallery Hop Like a Seoul Local

South Korea’s capital is electric. Among its neon lights, K-pop and fast-paced energy, you can feel the current, the hum of activity moving through the streets. Nowhere is this more evident than in Itaewon, Samcheong-dong and Hongdae, neighborhoods popular with the city’s creatives.

The sprawling city isn’t always the easiest to navigate for visitors with mostly Korean signs and a complex transportation system, but the chef Mingoo Kang of the two Michelin-starred Mingles; the contemporary artist Wona Cho; and Hakjun Lee, the general manager of Christie’s Korea, take some of the work out it for tourists by sharing their favorite places in these neighborhoods and the surrounding areas.

As Seoul’s art scene grows more international, galleries like Lehmann Maupin and Pace have established outposts in this foreigner-friendly part of the city, adjacent to a former American military base, that is known for its nightlife, restaurants and shopping.

Ms. Cho, 41, who lives nearby, said this was a place to go to see what’s trendy and popular with young people in South Korea. “I’m in Itaewon the most often,” Ms. Cho said in a phone interview. “You can see what young people these days are up to, what style of clothes they’re wearing.”

For her, it is the brunch scene she enjoys the most. She frequents Oasis, an all-day brunch cafe; the Baker’s Table, a German bakery; and Pancake Shop. She also enjoys heading for a walk with her dog at Namsan park.

Mr. Kang, 39, who also opened Hyodo Chicken, a collaboration between himself and the chef Chang Ho Shin that specializes in Korean fried chicken, said his favorites in the area were the three Michelin-starred Mosu, the chef Sung Anh’s contemporary fine-dining restaurant; and the American casual dining restaurant Cesta.

If visitors need a good post-meal coffee, he said they should head to Hell Cafe. Mr. Lee described the coffee there as being like “a consistent, old friend.”

As for cultural experiences in the area, both Mr. Kang and Mr. Lee recommend the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, which shows traditional Korean art as well as contemporary Korean and Western art.

Mr. Lee, 58, also recommends the Hyundai Card Music Library. It holds more than 10,000 vinyl records, including rare releases, that can be listened to on-site on turntables. Next door, the Art Library houses thousands of art books and the Storage exhibition space displays contemporary visual art. The two libraries are part of a series of…

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