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[Well-curated] English tea, sticky rice treats and yes, you can strike the bell at Bosingak

Nov. 17, 2023 - 09:01 By Park Yuna By Kim Da-sol By Hwang Joo-young

Unsweetened milk tea and scones with clotted cream and jam at TeaRoom Rossetti in Huam-dong, Yongsan, Seoul (Park Yuna/The Korea Herald)

Cozy, warm tearoom in Huam-dong

For imbibers of among the oldest aromatic beverages, a cozy and quiet place to enjoy afternoon tea time can be found in Huam-dong in Yongsan, central Seoul. TeaRoom Rossetti is a small, friendly place where the owner offers freshly baked scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.

Try the afternoon tea set that includes hand-made sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and madeleines served for at least two people. If you plan to visit alone, the tearoom has an afternoon tea set for a single person priced at 18,000 won.

As for the tea, you can choose one among a variety, but if you are the type of person who enjoys milk tea, you should try the unsweetened milk tea brewed by the owner, which matches perfectly with the sweet goods on offer.

The space is decorated with antique furniture and cups the owner has collected traveling the world. Although a reservation is required in advance, you might still be able to grab a taste of the freshly baked scones as a walk-in if you are lucky.

Chapssaltteok is sold at Hanjungsun. (Kim Da-sol/The Korea Herald)

Soft, chewy chapssaltteok for November

November is the month when chapssaltteok -- soft and chewy rice cake with red bean paste filling -- is at its most popular. Students who take the annual Suneung -- the College Scholastic Ability Test that was just held Thursday -- are traditionally given chapssaltteok as a gift. The stickiness of the treat is meant to help the students retain the study materials they have spent so long cramming in, or it can just be a nice reward after.

While traditional red bean paste-filled chapssaltteok remains the gold standard, there are now a wide variety of fillings available of various fruits that go well with the chewiness of the rice cake.

Hanjungsun, a chapssaltteok dessert cafe located in Seongsu-dong of Seongdong-gu, eastern Seoul, is one of the most popular places for unique chapssaltteok such as Shine Muscat, fig, tangerine, persimmon, pineapple and even butter.

The new variations of Korean traditional rice cake pair well with the hanok-inspired interior and gugak. Traditional gift wrap cloths – bojagi – are displayed on the side. Bojagi and embroidered handkerchiefs are used to wrap up gift sets

Hanjungsun opens every day from noon to 10 p.m.

A participant prepares to ring the bell with the assistance of attendants on the second floor of Bosingak in Jongno, central Seoul. (Seoul Culture Portal)

Striking the bell at Bosingak

Bosingak, a two-story belfry located in Jongno-gu, central Seoul, was established during the Joseon era (1392-1910) to herald the start of the day and the opening of city gates. The belfry was originally installed at Insa-dong in 1396 during the reign of King Sejo, but was moved to its current location in 1619.

Today, the streets around Bosingak are closed to traffic on Dec. 31 and people gather to ring in the new year with the striking of the bell. The bell also rings to commemorate the March 1 Independence Movement Day and Liberation Day on Aug. 15.

You can also join this living history through the Bosingak bell-ringing event that takes place for an hour every morning.

The event begins with a suwi ceremony and a sulla ceremony with attendants acting in place of the Joseon guards of yore. The two ceremonies were part of the changing of the guard procedure.

After the ceremonies, ascend to the second floor of Bosingak. With the assistance of the attendants, you can strike the bell three times with the "dangmok." Place your hands on the bell and you will feel the ringing reverberation after the bell has been struck. The ringing of the bell at Bosingak is often referred to as a moment to make a wish.

The Bosingak bell-ringing event runs from 10 a.m. to 12:10 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Online reservation via the event organizer’s website at is required. On Tuesdays, only walk-in participants are accepted. The event is free of charge. Bosingak is located at Exit No. 4 of Jonggak Station on Subway Line No. 1.