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[Well-curated] Writers' paradise, Cheonggyecheon that you didn't know and sweet, sticky treats

By Lee Si-jin, Hwang Dong-hee, Kim Da-sol

Published : March 24, 2023 - 09:01

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All Write, an analog stationery shop, is located in Jongno-gu, central Seoul. (All Write) All Write, an analog stationery shop, is located in Jongno-gu, central Seoul. (All Write)
Notebooks and other writing accessories are on display at All Write. (All Write) Notebooks and other writing accessories are on display at All Write. (All Write)

For those who still love to handwrite their schedules on paper, or decorate their planners with colored pens and stickers, the small stationery shop All Write may be worth a visit.

Located in Jongno-gu, central Seoul -- a 10-minute walk from Gyeongbokgung Station Exits No. 1 and No. 2, All Write is a store that doesn’t stand out in the calm, quiet neighborhood of Cheongunhyoja-dong.

There is no sign or fancy entrance. Rather, the shop welcomes visitors with small potted plants.

Unlike the unremarkable exterior, All Write has everything there is to interest journal enthusiasts.

The wall to the left of the entrance is filled with colorful postcards, featuring animals -- mostly cats -- and fascinating scenes of nature.

While different types of masking tape are on display for those with a passion for handwriting their daily schedules, colored checklists and notes grab the attention of those who love taking notes.

Ranging from monthly planners to three-month, 1/4-year, 1/2-year and one-year diaries, All Write offers various items for those who like to record their life events on paper.

“I think ‘All Write’ is a shop worth going to -- at least once -- for anyone who has a letter J in their MBTI type,” a 24-year-old college student Kim Min-ji told The Korea Herald, while looking for a dairy to replace her lost leather-covered planner.

Short for Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, MBTI divides people’s personalities into 16 categories by combinations of introversion or extroversion, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling and judging or perceiving.

People with J in their type, which stands for judging, are said to like planning ahead.

Make sure to check the official Instagram account of All Write before visiting as the store changes its operating hours every week.

The Cheonggyecheon Museum's Shack Theme Zone (Hwang Dong-hee/The Korea Herald) The Cheonggyecheon Museum's Shack Theme Zone (Hwang Dong-hee/The Korea Herald)
A miniature model of the shacks inside the Cheonggyecheon Museum (Hwang Dong-hee/The Korea Herald) A miniature model of the shacks inside the Cheonggyecheon Museum (Hwang Dong-hee/The Korea Herald)

Discover the rich history of Cheonggye Stream

Cheonggye Stream is a 10.84-kilometer-long urban stream that flows west to east through central Seoul, covering an area of about 59.93 square meters. When the weather turns warmer, it becomes a popular spot for busking, jogging, cycling and strolling along its banks.

The stream’s history dates back centuries. The natural waterway has a rich history that can be traced beyond Seoul’s designation as the capital during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

Located near Yongdu Station, Line 2, the Cheonggyecheon Museum in Seongdong-gu offers a glimpse into the stream’s journey over the centuries.

From its humble beginnings as a natural waterway, the museum looks into the process of the stream being covered and turned into an elevated highway and then the restoration project in the 2000s that transformed it into a bustling stream where people cool off in the summer and enjoy lantern festivals in winter.

The exhibition delves into the history not only the stream itself but also of the lives of the people who lived around the stream.

Right across from the museum is the Shack Theme Zone, which pays homage to the stream's past when the urban poor built improvised wooden homes on stilts at the edge of the water. The area, which began to be settled during the Japanese colonial period, continued to grow with the rush of Korean War refugees. The homes began to be demolished in mid-1960s, clearing the way for the construction of the elevated highway over the stream.

In 2022, the zone was redesigned to showcase the natural ecology and sustainability of the stream. The interior displays illustrations of the stream’s rich biodiversity from the upstream, midstream and downstream parts of the canal. Visitors can also enjoy views of the stream through the windows.

Both the museum and the shack theme zone are free, with the museum operating from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the shack zone opening at 10 a.m. Both are closed on Mondays.

(Grain Boundary Bakery) (Grain Boundary Bakery)
(Grain Boundary Bakery) (Grain Boundary Bakery)

When a traditional yakgwa meets a Levain-style cookie

Yakgwa, a traditional chewy and honey-sweet deep-fried treat, is now a topping on a cookie styled after New York's Levain Bakery.

Grain Boundary Bakery, located in Euljiro in downtown Seoul, churns out 30 different kinds of cookies and 20 other kinds of desserts, including butter bars and crumbles, that use no preservatives and no artificial coloring. A customer favorite is the yakgwa cookie, which has skyrocketed in popularity in recent months as young customers seek something chewier and sweeter.

The bakery recommends eating the yakgwa cookie after refrigerating it for a few minutes, enjoying it as a cold cookie. This way, the grain syrup-coated cookie will not stick to your fingers. The smell of ginger in the yakgwa combined with chewiness stimulates one's senses.

The bakery has created other yakgwa-inspired desserts as well, such as yakgwa crumble, which is a cinnamon-based crumble topped with whipped cream and small pieces of yakgwa, cream cheese and vanilla cream.

The shop is open every day from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. More information can be found at Grain Boundary Bakery Instagram at @grainboundary_official.