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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

5 Hidden Cafes in Seongnamdong

If you were to tell me 15 years ago that “old downtown” would be a trendy area full of cafes and trendy restaurants, I would have laughed in your face. Sure, the main shopping area always had a decent assortment of shops and restaurants but it was far from “trendy” and not to mention there was that little matter of the red-light district just down the road. Seongnamdong was an area that you went to have a “good time” in a manner of speaking. Back in 2003, it was dingy and reminded you why most young trendy people went to Samsandong on a Friday night.

Now, the area has been given a facelift. The redlights have been replaced with trendy neon signs and chandeliers. As you wind your way through the streets that most self-respecting adults would never dare go down 15 years ago, you will find coffee shops and murals. The alleyways lead to restored buildings and art galleries, with the area’s mascot “Ulsan Kunagi” leading the way.

Noxon – 녹손

울산광역시 중구 옥골샘8길 23

Open: 12:00-22:00

Americano: 5,000 won

Noxon stands out from the traditional brick buildings of the surrounding area with it’s copper facade and it’s name is actually a play on words meaning “rust” in Korean. I found it by wondering what exactly it was and going inside to check it out. What I found was a wonderful cafe spread out over multiple floors including an amazing rooftop. The theme here is concrete, wood, and metal. I really like this place and it is also a “no kid zone” so you are not going to have to deal with toddlers climbing the walls.  The only snag is that the price of coffee is on the high end and the chairs are not as comfortable as I would like them to be.

Borukku – 보루꾸

울산 중구 학성로 75-1

Open: 12:20 – 22:20

Americano: 4,500 won

When I think of the new wave of cafes Borukku comes to mind. They have recently renovated the exterior adding in what looks like a British phone booth as their front door. This quirky cafe kept a lot of the old charm from the old building. Meaning that some of the rooms feel like it was a bathroom at one point in time and this adds to the quirkiness of this cafe. What I like about this place is that many of the tables are sectioned off into little rooms. This can give you a break from the giggling couples or throngs of instagrammers photographing their lattes. The roof is also quite nice and can be a perfect place to spend a summer night.

MoMulDa Cafe – 카페 머물다

울산 중구 먹자거리 2-4 1층

Open: 10:00 – 23:00

Americano: 4,000 won

I was happy to stumble across this place, which is just a very short walk from Borukku. The fact is that if you cross the street from Borukku, you will be almost at MoMulDa. It is set in an old house and has multiple floors. They have maintained the aged look but also added some contemporary elements. There is also seating outside in the courtyard which makes this place a little more unique than others in the area. The cafe has your typical pastries and bread to nibble on but also has 3 types of coffee to choose from.


Sum – 숨

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Americano: 3,500 won (4,000 won for iced)

This  cafe has a lot to offer and is in a great location for a lot of the events that take place downtown. The 1st floor is your typical cafe with some amazing baristas making some great hand drip coffee. If I am in the area, this is also where I pick up some fresh roasted beans as well. The 2nd floor is a book cafe and is a great space. I am not exactly sure how many English books that they have but mostly likely not that many. However, the space is nice and quiet. The basement is reserved for seminar rooms and they can be rented out if you are looking at running a class or holding an event. There is also a gallery space upstairs but it may not be in use at the moment.


Paan Coffee – 판 커피

울산 중구 옥골샘8길 6

Open: 10:00 – 23:00

Americano: 4,200 won

Located right next to the public parking garage that looks like a traditional building, this cafe is nice little spot to go on a summer day. With the yard open right next to the cafe, it is one of a kind. Paan has some decent coffee and a great atmosphere inside. It is another cafe in a renovated old house but this place has it’s own style. It is also a little quiet and is great to  park your bike, grab a cup and read a book.  However, like most cafes in Korea, there are times when it will be full of instagramming college kids or shout-talking ajummas. Don’t let that stop you, just head outside and drink your coffee under the big tree!

All of these cafes are a little off the beaten path with the exception of Borukku, which is on the main road which is also known as “cell phone street” heading towards the Shigyetop intersection. The addresses are left in Korean to allow you to copy and past then into Kakao Maps (click here) which will give the the location and directions.


Jason Teale is a freelance photographer based in South Korea specializing in travel, Cinemagraphs, food, and documentary photography. Available for assignments in Ulsan, Busan, Seoul, and nationwide.