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Feel the 70’s and the 80’s Vibe in Jeonju: Samyang Dabang and LP Café Sori

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There are a variety of things to see in Jeonju. Yes, you’ve heard of Jeonju Hanok Village, but you might also want to discover the lotus lake in Deokjin Park, Jeonju Zoo, Gaekridan-gil Street, and Ajung Lake. You can also enjoy a night out near Jeonbuk National University.

Also, the Jeonju Castle, which had been lost since the Imperial Japanese occupation period, is being unearthed since earlier this year. Hopefully we’ll be able to witness the restored Jeonju Castle in the near future.

On the site of the Jeonju Castle are the Gyeonggijeon Shrine, Jeolla Gamyoung (the Joseon Dynasty Governor’s Residence), Gaeksa (the Joseon Dynasty Guesthouse), Nambu Market, the Movie Street, and Dongmun Art Street.

Also within the site are many old cafés and bars that remind the visitors of the 70’s and the 80’s. Such venues are popular to both young and old patrons. Today I’ll visit two of them: Samyang Dabang and LP Café Sori.

Samyang Dabang Café

Walk along the Gyeonggijeon Shine’s stone wall towards Dongmun, and you’ll arrive at Dongmun Art Street.

The street has many old businesses, including Waengi Kongnamul Gukbap (bean sprouts soup with rice) and Jeonil Gabo (famous for Jeonju’s ‘corner store beer’ culture). Culture and food meet in the Dongmun district.

Samyang Dabang is the oldest ‘dabang’ (early 20th century teahouse or café) in Korea. It opened well before the 1950s, when the café culture started becoming popular. It’s been a cozy gathering venue for the locals since then. If you want to feel the old ‘dabang’ you should visit here.

At a first glance, it seems rather too modern. Yet, on the other side of the wall it’s a different story!

I travelled back in time! There’s only a wall separating the past and the present. The ‘old’ section is equipped with the old furniture and decorations of the original ‘dabang’.

This is like witnessing the past and the present at once!

In every corner of the ‘dabang’, I see old stuffs. Back in the days, Samyang Dabang was the favorite gathering place of the local artists and intellectuals. The scent of good coffee, smiles, heated discussions, and emotions floated in the air.

In 2013, just like many other old venues, Samyang Dabang faced difficulties continuing business. Then, the locals intervened to save the oldest ‘dabang’ in the country. So, Samyang Dabang is really meaningful to the locals.

The most popular beverage of Samyang Dabang is ‘Yetnal Coffee’ (literally, ‘old coffee’). It tastes like a good old sweet iced coffee made from a Korean coffee sachet. I was surprised that I emptied my glass rather quickly, but there’s one more place to visit.

Samyang Dabang
Address: Dongmungil 94, Wansangu, Jeonju
Contact: 063-231-2238
Opening hours: 08:30~00:00

LP Café Sori

Not far from Samyang Dabang, I came across a café with not-so-ordinary exterior.

These are all LP discs! And the white curtain? I entered.

I was greeted by the old music and the scent of coffee in the air. This is LP Sori Café. I find the uncountable number of the LP discs on the shelves quite interesting.

Looking at the owner’s collection of the old discs, I couldn’t help but wonder if I accidentally stepped into the 70’s or the 80’s.

LP Café Sori is also renowned for the hand drip coffee. Since I don’t know much about coffee, the owner recommended the beans. Upon order, the owner roasted, ground, and made the hand drip coffee in front of me.

The hand drip coffee came with cold water and glasses filled with ice, so that I can try different flavor. I chose the Guatemalan coffee and I loved it!

Also, the traditional Korean teas, brewed by the owner, are also popular at LP Café Sori. Especially, ‘Ssanghwatang’ is a herbal tea brewed according to the old medicine book recipe.

I really enjoyed the rich flavor of the 13 medicinal ingredients of the Ssanghwatang. I also enjoyed eating nurungji (the crusty part of boiled rice) offered as the nibble.


LP Café Sori
Address: Hyunmu 2gil 13-7, Wansangu, Jeonju
Contact: 0507-1421-9802
Opening hours: 10:00~23:00 (closed on Sundays)

This autumn, why not visit the old town of Jeonju? It must be nice even if you’re alone, because you’ll probably stumble upon a local favorite café, store, or pub!


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