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지나쌤

[Well-curated] Pies, cute stationery and Confucianism

By Lee Jung-youn, Choi Si-young, Lee Yoon-seo

Published : April 5, 2024 - 09:01

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Pies await customers at Focal Point, Wednesday (Lee Jung-youn/The Korea Herald) Pies await customers at Focal Point, Wednesday (Lee Jung-youn/The Korea Herald)

Savoring leisure with warm pie and coffee

If you're planning to embark on a journey from Seoul Station or just passing through the heart of Seoul, enjoy a warm pie for a meal that's a little different than the typical.

Focal Point is a pie restaurant in at a brown brick building behind Seoul Station. Various savory pies welcome visitors, including the Song-jung tteokgalbi pie, featuring minced short rib, broccoli and corn seasoned with soy sauce, the grilled corn pie topped with almond cream and corn. There are also the sweet pies suitable for a snack or special treat, such as the strawberry yogurt pie, chestnut earl grey pie and roll croissant. The Napoli pie is presented as a suitable vegetarian option, made of eggplant, tomato and basil pesto.

All pies are freshly baked daily and made with unsalted French butter.

Aside from its delicious pies, the allure of Focal Point lies in the spacious setting. Large tables and comfortable chairs are available from the first to third floors, as well as the rooftop area. On sunny days, guests can enjoy coffee and pie on the expansive terrace while soaking in the sunlight.

Outside the first floor is a small van adorned with the Focal Point logo, which serves as an instant photo booth where visitors can capture memories. Focal Point is pet-friendly, as guests are welcome to bring their animal companions along.

Focal Point operates daily from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Brunch items such as open sandwiches, stew and mashed potatoes are only available from Tuesday to Saturday, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Focal Point (Lee Jung-youn/The Korea Herald) Focal Point (Lee Jung-youn/The Korea Herald)
Focal Point pies (Focal Point official Instagram) Focal Point pies (Focal Point official Instagram)

An exhibition on Korean Confucianism at the Seoul Museum of History (Choi Si-young/The Korea Herald) An exhibition on Korean Confucianism at the Seoul Museum of History (Choi Si-young/The Korea Herald)
An exhibition on Korean Confucianism at the Seoul Museum of History (Choi Si-young/The Korea Herald) An exhibition on Korean Confucianism at the Seoul Museum of History (Choi Si-young/The Korea Herald)

Korean Confucianism 101

Anyone entering the Seoul Museum of History couldn’t help but notice what appears to be a makeshift structure that, with a closer second look, turns out to be an exhibition on a serious topic: Korean Confucianism.

The system of thought that undergirds the fabric of Korean society is laid out in three words: “gotaek, seowon and gugok,” referring to old houses, academies and scenic spots for “seonbi,” the scholars of the Joseon era (1392-1910).

One space explores how seonbi’s old houses sought a humble lifestyle, valuing “spiritual maturity” over materialism. Minimalism practiced in the process points to a pursuit of life with nature, potentially a lesson for today’s world as it grapples with an overheating Earth.

What seonbi eyed was making others feel comfortable, and at seowon, they studied and practiced ways to become a person of “ideal virtue,” as one wall reads at another space.

And inspirations keeping seonbi occupied and imaginations prompting breakthrough in new thoughts are born in gugok -- the most beautiful spots of valleys -- as the third and last space highlights the role of nature. Mountains and rivers offer hints of wisdom; as long as one earnestly seeks truth, truth comes from within.

The free exhibit, open through April 21, might look shallow given the attempt to reduce the expansive belief system to just a pop-up stand with what some say are fewer explanatory books and less enlightening multimedia than warranted.

Still, it’s worth a trip. Visitors will be able to summarize Korean Confucianism in a few words, a step that prepares them to seek understanding beyond the 101 course level.

Goods are displayed for sale at Seongsu Stationery Store. (Lee Yoon-seo/The Korea Herald) Goods are displayed for sale at Seongsu Stationery Store. (Lee Yoon-seo/The Korea Herald)

Korean stationery pop-up

For fans of adorable goods, dolls and stationery, Seongsu Stationery Store is the ideal destination this weekend.

Seongsu Stationery Store is a merchant-centric pop-up project featuring a variety of goods, ranging from postcards and stickers to pouches and mugs, which have been crafted by 16 Korean artists, such as popular Instagram webtoon artist Woowoori and goods-seller Ddunki.

Seongsu Stationery Store not only provides a dedicated space for selling goods, but also offers numerous photo zones, where visitors can take pictures with the representative characters of artists participating in the pop-up.

There are also various opportunities for visitors to participate in raffles. Events at the booths range from posting a personal introduction on a wall-mounted postcard to suggesting songs to other visitors or coloring in characters.

The designers select an entrant at random to receive a gift after sharing photos of the creations via social media.

The store also holds mini exhibitions of works created by the artists. QR codes are placed next to the drawings to enable visitors to easily find them via social media.

The store operates from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. every day, with no admission fee. The pop-up store is being held until Sunday.

Goods are displayed for sale at Seongsu Stationery Store. (Lee Yoon-seo/The Korea Herald) Goods are displayed for sale at Seongsu Stationery Store. (Lee Yoon-seo/The Korea Herald)