OWL Magazine Korea

Seoul Insa-dong Traditional Tea House ‘Jidaebang’

Insa-dong, Seoul, is home to many cafes and traditional tea houses with a long history. The city of Seoul has recommended 39 traditional establishments in Jongno and Euljiro areas as ‘long-lasting stores’ and created a map for easy reference.

To achieve this, the city of Seoul conducted on-site evaluations by experts, travel professionals, cultural guides, foreigners, university students, and others, in addition to seeking advice and assessments from experts. The goal of the ‘long-lasting stores’ project is to “introduce the charm and stories of old stores hidden behind the city, providing a unique experience for Seoul tourism.”

“Seoul Insa-dong Traditional Tea House, Jidaebang”

Jidaebang, a traditional tea house located on the main street of Insa-dong, has also been selected as a ‘long-lasting store.’

The name ‘Jidaebang’ is said to mean “a place for modern people tired from the hustle and bustle to take a short rest.” ‘Jidae’ is a pure Korean term for the bag monks carry, and ‘bang’ literally means room. Combined, it can be interpreted as a room where monks leave their bags.

“Since 1982, Traditional Tea House Jidaebang”

Jidaebang has been in operation since 1982. The current owner, Mr. Lee Jong-guk, has been running it since 2002. Jidaebang boasts the longest history among traditional tea houses on Insa-dong Street. However, the original founder of the store cannot be confirmed at present.

“Preserving the Traces of Time, Cafe at Jidaebang”

Jidaebang is located on the second floor of a building in Insa-dong. As time has passed, it is impressive to see that the place has preserved its appearance. When you open the door and enter, you can see people chatting under dim lighting.

The lighting is not too bright, and the use of soft lighting allows for an even more subdued atmosphere if you visit in the late afternoon. The wallpaper also exudes an old-fashioned feeling. The wallpaper on the ceiling feels like it’s about to fall off due to its age. Thanks to this, the place exudes a truly vintage atmosphere.

“The Menu at Jidaebang”

You can enjoy over 60 different types of tea and beverages at Jidaebang. The menu board is filled with a wide variety of teas, including green tea, flower tea, Chinese famous teas, and grain teas. You can order your preferred menu from these options.

“The Guestbook of Jidaebang, Jidaebang Diary”

In one corner of Jidaebang, you can find the greatest treasure of this place. The notebook named ‘Jidaebang Diary’ is filled to the brim, serving as a guestbook where customers who have visited this place have personally left messages. The long history of Jidaebang is recorded here.

If you have some spare time, it’s enjoyable to pull out the Jidaebang Diary and read the notes left by people from the past.

“The Blue-Eyed Monk, Ven. Hyunkak”

Ven. Hyunkak, also known as the blue-eyed monk, was one of the regular patrons of Jidaebang. It is said that while he stayed in Korea, he wrote his book “Pilgrimage, from Harvard to Hwagyesa” here.

The monk, who frequently visited Jidaebang to the extent of completing an entire book in a tea house, left a single line in his book: “The writing of this book took place entirely in the tea house ‘Jidaebang’ in Insa-dong, Seoul.”

As a traditional tea house with a special atmosphere that can be found in Insa-dong, Jidaebang stands out from other traditional tea houses by preserving the guestbook filled with memories of those who have visited. It’s a great place to get lost in nostalgia while reading the notes left by people from the past.

“Seoul Insa-dong Traditional Tea House, Jidaebang”

  • Address: 2nd Floor, 33 Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
  • Phone: 02-738-5379
  • Operating Hours: (Everyday) 10:00 – 24:00