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[Drama Tour] Sewoon Shopping Center, home of Geumga Plaza in 'Vincenzo'

March 30, 2024 - 16:01 By Lee Si-jin
The cast of "Vincenzo" poses in front of the Sewoon-Cheonggye Shopping Mall. (tvN)
The Sewoon Shopping Center in Jongno-gu, central Seoul, was the main filming location for tvN's crime thriller series, "Vincenzo." (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Seoul may be a shopper’s paradise with its numerous mega shopping complexes spread throughout the city -- the Hyundai Seoul in Yeouido, the beloved shopping district of Myeongdong in Jung-gu and Songpa-gu's Lotte World Tower & Mall, to name a few.

These shopping complexes and districts attract visitors of all ages with luxury brands, trendy dining spots and eye-catching pop-up stores, not only enriching the shopping experience for shoppers but also transforming the surrounding areas into commercial meccas.

Meanwhile, the Sewoon Shopping Center, the country’s first residential and commercial complex built in 1968, specializes in electronic goods. The shopping center had its heyday in the 1970s to 1980s when South Korean computer company TG Trigem, computer software company Hancom and other network services started trading in this building.

"Sewoon" is an abbreviation that means "the energy of the world gathers," and, as the name implies, Sewoon Shopping Center was once a go-to space for tech lovers and electronic product enthusiasts.

Though fancy shopping centers and e-commerce platforms have driven shoppers away from the Sewoon Shopping Center, the 56-year-old building has been transformed into an urban manufacturing center and an incubator for young entrepreneurs.

After being featured in the smash-hit crime series, “Vincenzo” (2021), starring Song Joong-ki, the old arcade has become an exciting destination for both local and international drama fans, beckoning them with its unique aesthetics and charm.

Hallways of Sewoon Shopping Center

The first impression of Sewoon Shopping Center may not be great.

This eight-story building is the complete opposite of the modern-day Korean shopping complex. It has no escalators, elevators, high ceilings, fancy lights or flashy signs.

Sewoon Shopping Center’s narrow hallways, where boxes are piled up and lights are sparsely installed, are more than enough to make visitors a little intimidated.

But, it is this dark, cold atmosphere that makes some content creators and passionate photographers pull out their cameras.

A narrow hallway of the Sewoon Shopping Center in Jongno-gu, central Seoul, March 21. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

“I came here to take some cool photos for my social media account,” a 26-year-old university student surnamed Jung said.

“I looked up cool photo spots while I was wandering around different areas near Euljiro 3-ga Station. I wanted the grey and black colored hip-hop-style outfits to stand out. And I felt that the atmosphere of this building’s hallways was a perfect match,” Jung shared, adding that he found out about the building after watching the crime thriller series “Stranger” (2017).

With countless shops clustered together inside the building's spaces, this shopping mall is considered an ideal spot for exciting chase scenes in thriller and action projects.

“I didn’t know when I watched the show, but I can now sense the feeling of being trapped. I think this environment allows the drama characters to express their urgency and their terror more comfortably,” Jung told The Korea Herald on March 21.

Visitors can explore the building from the first to the fourth floor, where a wide range of electronic products from computers, home appliances and semiconductors, to cables, karaoke machines and cameras are sold.

The other four floors are the residential areas, where access to visitors is prohibited.

Though the building’s rooftop was once a popular sunset spot for many tourists, it is no longer open to the public.

Visitors browse camera lenses and other equipment at a store at the Sewoon Shopping Center, March 21. (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)
A hallway at the Sewoon Shopping Center is featured in "Vincenzo." (tvN)

Cozy cafes and restaurants

The "Vincenzo" cast look on at Geumga Plaza from the pedestrian walkway in a scene from the drama. (tvN)

Thanks to the city’s urban regeneration efforts, the pedestrian walkways -- built in 2017 to connect Sewoon Shopping Center and Cheonggye Shopping Mall -- became an iconic photo spot for many millennials and Gen Zs. Some of the cafes and restaurants located alongside the walkway have also become very popular.

Imelda Bunsik, among many other restaurants, is a place where people can try out various cuisines, including Italian pasta, Japanese-style port cutlets, Korean tteokbokki and more.

“Apart from the delicious food, the small restaurant offered a cozy atmosphere, allowing me to spend quality time with my friends under the warm orange light last month. I recognized people loved to take photos of the restaurant’s bright colored interior designs as well,” Hwang Min-jeong, a Daegu-based office worker in her 30s, shared her experience with The Korea Herald on Tuesday.

If you are in the mood for a light dessert or snack, visit Bbawoo where you can enjoy soft, chewy fried donuts with sikhye, a punch made by fermenting steamed rice in malt water.

Guests line up in front of Daelim Noodle in Jung-gu, central Seoul. (Daelim Noodle)
Bbawoo, a fried donut store in Jung-gu, central Seoul (Lee Si-jin/The Korea Herald)

Daelim Noodle is another go-to spot, offering a special gastronomic experience with warm noodles, yakitori (a Japanese dish of grilled chicken skewers) and ice-cold beer.

It is possible to get a table outside for those who wish to enjoy dinner in the cool spring breeze.

Complete your Sewoon Shopping Center experience at eff coffee, where the brown-toned interior and soft lighting create a calm atmosphere for guests to relax during the day or at night.

Eff coffee’s tiramisu, a water drop-shaped cream cheese delight covered with Valrhona chocolate powder, is the menu item recommended by the cafe's owner, perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth.