I think there is a section of Hongdae that most people don't know about. Usually when you hear people talk about Hongdae they mention the specialty restaurants or the clubs. I've never heard anyone mention a place to go and paint your own cute little doll and have a creative experience in Korea. Then you might understand our reaction when we happened to come upon the store Mustoy.
It was perched at the top of a hill alongside an area of Hongdae that is back to back with cafes.
As we looked from the outside at the Mustoy
we saw people inside clutching something little and painting it. You instantly knew this place was special due to the numerous dolls along the window.
What is Mustoy? First off it is written this way... 無stoy. That Chinese character has the meaning of "nothing" and is pronounced "Mu". The idea is that you start with nothing, just a blank doll and can draw whatever you want on it. After we entered the shop the lady, who spoke very good English, gave us a nice introduction on the place. Apparently it was started by what I think was a famous singer, or someone who owns a big company. Not sure. Anyways the point of the store is to come with your friends or loved one and make a nice happy memory.
What you do is select either a small or large version of the doll and get a set of permanent markers and go at your creation.
The place has several dolls you can buy that have been painted on by actual known artists, as seen above. Also you can buy a set to take home. The in-store painting costs 12,000 Won a doll and the take home, where you get two dolls and a marker set is just 30,000 Won.
Although, my friend and I didn't make one this day we hope to go back.
Getting here from the Hongik subway station might be a little tricky for the untrained. However, I would recommend starting out on the main strip going up towards the University. As Taco Bell is on your right you want to turn left down one of the little alley-ways, then make your way right up a big hill.
The website provides a map that might be interpretable and a video that is also quite helpful. Also go into the iTunes store and look for a mustoy app as you can make one that way.
DIY shops are becoming a little more common these days, but I think they are nice break from the usual coffee-shop hang outs. You definitely feel a sense of creativity and relaxation in the Mustoy place.
I would highly recommend you getting out to one of these and enjoying a different sort of activity in Seoul.