OWL Magazine Korea

Jungdong-gil Café “San Damiano”

At the end or beginning of Jungdong-gil in Jung-gu, Seoul, there is a special café. It’s a café with an atmosphere where you can watch passersby, wait endlessly for someone, or read a book without getting tired.

Located on the first floor of the Francesco Education Center, this is a beautiful book café with a glass front.

“The Cathedral of San Damiano in Italy”

San Damiano is a cathedral located in Italy. Saint Francis, born in 1182 and passing away in 1226, was a Catholic saint who was loved not only by Catholics but also by people all over the world who knew him.

He spent his youth wandering, but one day, after a religious experience at the San Damiano Cathedral, he completely changed his life. Afterward, Saint Francis lived a life of peace, unity, love, and sharing to repair the dilapidated house of Yaweh in the medieval Church and the world.

In commemoration of him, the Korean Custody of the Little Brothers (Franciscans) built the Francesco Education Center in Jung-dong in 1987, and in 2010, they opened the cultural space “San Damiano” to evolve into a more open space.

“The Former Location of a Catholic Bookstore”

There was a bookstore selling Catholic-related books on the first floor of the Francesco Education Center building for a long time. Now, you can see various books displayed inside the San Damiano Café. The books in one corner of the café were all donated, and they received selective donations for reading materials.

Thanks to this, it is open to anyone as a library. Sometimes, they sell remainder books in collaboration with publishers. Buyers can purchase books at a low cost, and the proceeds are used for the benefit of the neighbors through donations.

“Free Concerts Held Monthly”

At San Damiano Café, they hold regular concerts every month. The concerts are free and provide an opportunity for cultural exchange and emotional connections for those who are culturally disconnected.

Additionally, the space at San Damiano Café is open and available for various events such as concerts, exhibitions, performances, film screenings, book launch events, and receptions. If the purpose and nature of the event are nonprofit or pure art, it is possible to use the space for free.

“The Impressive Café with Red Brick Walls”

The interior of the building is made of red bricks, giving off a scent of the past. However, it is not lacking in sophistication just because it is an old building. On the contrary, although it was built in the past, it is a well-designed building that stands up to comparison with modern buildings.

One special feature is that even the floor is decorated with red bricks, and you can see the attention to detail in every nook and cranny of the building.

On a good weather day, you can open the full-length glass door at the front and enjoy the weather. However, on the day I visited, it was still in the midst of winter, so it wasn’t quite suitable for spending time outdoors. It’s a place where you can enjoy an even more wonderful atmosphere if you visit in the cool spring or autumn weather.

“A Meeting Room for Twelve People”

Inside the café, you can see a large meeting room with twelve chairs. This place can be rented for use, but it can also be used without reservation.

If it’s a particularly important meeting that requires a reservation, you can pay a fee to rent the space. However, if no one has made a reservation for the time you want to use it, you can use it for free. The only rule is that you must leave the door open.

“Unburdened Drink Prices”

The drink prices are also relatively affordable compared to the overall atmosphere of the café. An Americano is priced at 4,000 KRW, which is considered reasonable even when compared to Starbucks.

While you might think that it’s a place that only Catholic believers should visit due to its association with Catholicism, it’s a place that can be visited by anyone, regardless of their religious background.

“Seoul Jungdong-gil Café, San Damiano”

  • Address: 9 Jungdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
  • Phone number: 02-6364-2233
  • Operating hours: (Mon-Fri) 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM, (Sat-Sun) 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM