Soje-dong 소제동: Daejeon’s Hottest New Neighborhood

I’ve lived in Daejeon, South Korea since 2008, and boy things have changed! The construction industry in this country is downright impressive with residential buildings popping up left and right, like morel mushrooms after a forest burn. What once was an almost empty field near our university, is now a very busy metropolitan district with one of the most expensive residential areas in the city. Slowly, our city’s river views and surrounding mountain views have also been disappearing behind the newly built concrete jungle.

“Change has a bad reputation in our society. But it isn’t all bad – not by any means. In fact, change is necessary in life – to keep us moving, to keep us growing, to keep us interested. Imagine life without change. It will be static, boring, dull.” – Dr. Dennis O’Grady

The city has also introduced more public transportation options, such as the Bike Sharing Program and recently a Scooter Sharing Program as well. These inexpensive options are mostly used by students and young professionals, who are opting in instead of using the always popular cars, buses, or taxis. As a cyclist and a driver, I’ve also noticed constant road works being done to aid with traffic congestion or to improve aging bridges and passageways. As a dog owner, I’ve noticed in my own neighborhood, new paths being created and signs put up in order to encourage walking and exercise. My neighborhood has also seen a lot of demolished buildings with new, modern ones going up in their place.

The newest changes in the city of Daejeon are definitely in Soje-dong(소제동). This neighborhood is located directly behind Daejeon’s Train Station (대전역) and contains a large number of one-story houses, not typical Korean Hanoks but a budget version of it. Because I live on the other side of town, I was glad to discover this unknown gem.

The newest in Soje-dong news is that this neighborhood has become the city’s project of revitalization and growth, also known as Art Belt (소제아트밸트). A lot of buildings have been remodeled into sexy cafes, restaurants, or art galleries that have been very popular among Instagrammers. So one, sunny autumn afternoon, my handy Fuji and I took a stroll through Soje-dong, capturing things that caught my photographic attention. If you enjoy street style photography, capturing dilapidated spaces, Korean old-school alleyways, and wall paintings, then you’ll also enjoy this photographic gallery.

After some time, I found myself a little thirsty and decided to personally check out one of the Tea Houses in Soje-dong. It’s called New Mixed Tea Room (카페 풍뉴가) and upon entering, you’ll be transported into a very different atmosphere than what you normally anticipate in a city of over 1.5 million inhabitants.

Though the New Mixed Tea Room is a bit pricey, I paid 6,000krw for tea and 4,000 for that tiny cake, the atmosphere of this place is refreshing. I’ve never been to any cafe in Daejeon that dedicated so much of its space to live plants, let alone, such magnificent plants as Bamboo.

The biggest mystery is How did they get it out here? 

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A post shared by 풍뉴가 風流家 (@png_soje)

After my snack of tea and cake, I walked around more, finding this place, which may look very traditional on the outside but has a ROBOT (@Robot_Baris) preparing your coffee! No, not an automatic Coffee machine, but an actual MIT-looking gadget, which will prepare your hand-dripped cup of joe for you.

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A post shared by 라운지엑스 – LOUNGE’X (@loungexcafe)

If you’re hungry while in Soje-dong, do check out the popular Chiang Mai Bangkok (치앙마이방콕) restaurant, which has some nice Thai dishes and a romantic atmosphere.

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A post shared by <치앙마이방콕> (@chiangmai_bangkok)

Across Chiang Mai Bangkok restaurant, you can grab some coffee at a very minimalist cafe, called Oasis. They even have a second-story veranda that you can enjoy some sunshine on.

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A post shared by oasis (@oasis__soje)

Lastly, don’t forget to take a walk around Soje streets, near the cafes, and then cross the street (due West, away from the river). Word on the street is that the Soje buildings/area that won’t be scooped up by entrepreneurs to remodel, will eventually be demolished and tall apartment buildings put in. So please patronize Soje-dong, visit, photograph and take it in, because, like this Soje autumn leaf, it will eventually succumb to change.

Check out other places to sightsee in Daejeon or in Korea.


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