At Cafe Yeonnam-dong 239-20 in Mapu-gu in Seoul, South Korea everything looks hand-drawn, from the tables to the cups. The cafe, located in a modest brick building, gives guests the chance to grab a cup of coffee in what feels like the pages of a comic book.
The shop, designed in black and white, has been created so customers feel as if they’ve stepped into a drawing. The cafe's owners hoped to create an original space that arouses a sense of nostalgia. The eatery was inspired by one of Korea’s hit television shows — W – Two Worlds — in which the main character enters the world of a webtoon created by her father. The concept has been a hit with customers and tourists from around the world who come to enjoy a drink and photograph the amazing designs.
Webtoons are a type of digital comic that originated in South Korea. Mostly unknown before, the popularity of webtoons has exploded since people started reading comics on smartphones and computers. As digital comics have gained popularity, the print publication of manhwa, a Korean term for comics and print cartoons, in South Korea has decreased. The amount of material published in webtoon form is now equal to that published offline.
Named after its address, Cafe Yeonnam-dong 239-20 opened in South Korea last year and features eight seats inside and nine seats on the balcony. The shop is open from Tuesday to Fridays from 11 am to 9 pm, serving specialty drinks and small bites, such as sandwiches, fruit smoothies, green tea lattes, chocolate smoothies topped with chocolate coins, and wild strawberry lemonade. The cafe’s design extends into its bathroom as well.
The cafe has been so successful that the owners are contemplating opening similar shops in other countries. In 2016, 17 million foreign tourists visited South Korea. As the country’s popularity soars, the South Korean government hopes to attract more than 20 million foreign tourists a year. South Korean tourism is driven by the trends of South Korean pop music and television dramas, known as Korean Wave, throughout East Asia, as well as South Korean culture, cuisine, and natural attractions.