Dearim Changgo is a cafe in Seongsu. Changgo means a warehouse in Korean. From the outside, Daerim Changgo looks exactly like the name suggests – a large warehouse. Built with an unassuming brick exterior and a heavy, rusted metal door, the place looks more like the entrance to a small factory than the cafe and gallery it truly holds inside. So, my friends and I were passing by one day, and would have completely missed out on it.
Through the glass, we caught a glimpse of a group of people surrounding a large metal structure. As you can see in the pictures and the Instagram post, there are big art structures in the cafe which make gallery-like vibes. We decided to take the plunge and go off our planned route for the day, we pushed the door open and entered.
What you can experience
When entering Daerim Changgo, the first thing visitors see is one of the exhibitions the gallery-cum-cafe boasts. A large structure made of thin metal that seems to be molded in the shape of the Earth, with rings circling around the main spherical body.
To the immediate left of the structure is a small room with a few paintings exhibited, just like in a gallery. One side of the room consists completely of latticed glass, allowing passers-by to peek in and admire the art.
Past the structure is one of the widest, largest cafes I have ever seen, with a long table occupying most of the center of the room and other, smaller tables spread out around it. In general, the cafe has a very natural, albeit slightly worn-out, vibe. The roof opens out near the back of the room, allowing for a large shaft of sunlight to shine in onto the red brick wall at the very end.
The back of the cafe is also teeming with greenery, with a real, small tree and plants flourishing haphazardly among industrial elements like hanging metal beams and exposed pipes. Large paintings line the room, adding color to the otherwise drab space and helping it keep in line with the ‘gallery’ concept they utilize.
There’s also another room to the left of the main space, where you can see even more paintings, but if the main room was more open, this one is closed up completely. There are also plenty of seats available here, making it a safer choice to visit on a weekend or a holiday.
What you can have
The menu placed right above the order counter is written on a large blackboard with chalk. It contains everything from beer and wine, to food and cafe fare like coffees, teas and desserts. The food served here is Western, with plenty of salads, pizzas and pastas. It was quite late when we came and none of the other customers around us had ordered food, so we weren’t able to even take a glimpse of the fare they offered.
I went for a generic iced cafe latte, while one of my friends opted for a matcha latte and the other for an iced Americano. There were even special coffees available with plenty of types to choose from, but each carried hefty price tags of more than 10,000 won on average. We took a seat near the main table in the middle, which on the day we visited. It was filled with tiny soaps in the shape of beautifully decorated cakes and figurines. The abundance of art and creativity around us made us wonder if the place held classes on arts-and-crafts. But we did not manage to find anything that would tell us the relevant info.
The coffees were passable cafe fare, with the espresso leaning on the deeply bitter side. The matcha was also bitter rather than sweet. Although the drinks weren’t to our liking, we had to agree that it did somehow match the more serious interior of the cafe.
Daerim Changgo is a novel place to relax and gain inspiration from all the creativity around you, but is sadly not a place I would visit again and again. Once is enough for me, but that one time was enough to leave a strong impression on me.