Greem Cafe - Gastro Obscura

Warning to those with vertigo: This may not be the cafe for you. That’s not because it’s located on a cliff. Instead, Seoul’s Greem Cafe (formerly Cafe Yeonnam-Dong 223-14, named after its street number) and affectionately known as the “Drawing Cafe,” may dizzy you with the uncanny feeling that you just entered a cartoon.

Done up in white, with pencil-like black pigment outlining everything from the chairs and tables to the flattened “shirts” on the laundry line outside, the small cafe gives visitors the distinct impression of being pressed into a comic strip. The pastel pastries and frothed milk topping the “flat” cups add a pop of color to this stark, pencil-and-paper landscape.

The cafe’s owner and sole proprietor, J.S. Lee, was inspired by pop culture—specifically, a Korean cartoon and Instagram. The show in question is W, a web cartoon fantasy about a man caught between real life and, you guessed it, a web cartoon. While that show lasted only 16 episodes, Lee’s cafe, though still young, seems to have staying power. That’s partly due to his other online muse: The cafe was designed to be as Instagrammable as possible. 

Locals and travelers alike line up to visit the small space, located in Seoul’s Yeonnam-dong neighborhood, to snap a pic or 10 and to dine on deceptively 2-D coffees, pastries, and rich smoothies adorned in chocolate coins. Visitors are warned to take care, however, lest they walk through the cartoon door and find themselves stuck starring in their own multidimensional web series.

Know Before You Go

The cafe is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., though visitors should be warned: The line to enter is often quite lengthy with crowds clamoring for their photo op.

Permanently Closed. Feb 2024 per note from owner on Google Maps.

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May 29, 2019
June 16, 2023

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