So, one of my favorite places to read for interesting places to see in Korea is Seoul State of Mind. He often mentions or posts about more off the beaten path places outside of Seoul, and since his home base (Gwangju) isn’t too far from mine, I know I can check out the areas he mentions around the Jeolla provinces without making major treks up north or further down south. One of the places he mentioned back in April was this amazing looking teapot café. As a lifelong fan of tea and a big supporter of people in Korea doing something out of the box, I obviously got to figuring out how I too could experience this place. It really is in the middle of nowhere, and in terms of its presence online, it’s pretty nonexistent. There’s off the beaten path, and then there’s this. Even after looking up how to get there on Naver and Maggie consulting a Korean friend, it still looked like a pretty tricky trek. We wound up going to Gwangju and taking a pretty pricey taxi (about $40 both ways…. yikes) out to it.
The teapot café itself is a whimsical work of art. Everything, from the shape of the cafe to the design of the stairs, was all clearly conceived by an artist. In this case, the artist is Lee Dong Hee. 10 Magazine did a piece on him, and it explains that he’s been interested in steel sculpting since his university days. Enrogel is his life’s work. It’s in the middle of nowhere because he wanted to make it so big. As soon as we got out of the taxi we saw a bunch of sculptures scattered across the grass. The exterior of the teapot is a turquoise tile, not quite finished because of the sheer size. The inside is two floors, with the second floor more as a balcony over the first, and the designs are all quirky and charming. Both 10 Mag and Seoul State of Mind use Alice in Wonderland analogies, and that’s definitely how I felt looking at everything put together. In a country where the exteriors of buildings often leave a lot to be desired (I’m thinking gray-ish apartment buildings that are just sad looking even if they’re brand new), Enrogel is one of the few breaths of fresh air.
I have to say, while I don’t think much is worth $80 in taxi fees, this café is amazing. If you have a car, it’s a no brainer– get ye to Enrogel as soon as you can. If you don’t and you want to use the bus system for two hours from Gwangju or take a taxi, I recommend going in the spring or fall when the trees are either in bloom or filled with colors. This way you get pretty views along with experiencing the cafe rather than winter where you’ll want to rush in to get warm.
- Go to the Gwangju Bus Terminal. Get a taxi and show him this address: 전라남도 장성군 북하면 단풍로 1122 (대악리 415)
- If you have two hours from Gwangju to spend, go to Naver Maps, and click the arrow button the right side (길찾기). In the top bar type in 광주종합버스터미널 and in the bottom 에느로겔. It will give you local bus directions in Korean.
Words and Photographs by Samantha