MangoVine
Adventures in East Asia

Custom Leather Accessories by Elderly Korean Artisan

In our Seoul guide book (Lonely Planet City Guide), we found a listed leather goods shop where the products are made on site by an elderly artisan. Called Gajukgongyebang, I will from now on, just refer to the shop as Gaj...

Leather-Craftsman-Shelf

Gaj was located a few side streets away from the Ewha Womans University metro stop on Line 2 (exit 2) and quite easily found.

I had high expectations as I love discovering leather accessories and the idea of an elderly artisan implied a hand-crafted skill and years of experience poured into products of excellence.

I was a little disappointed, but probably unfairly so. We entered the brightly lit shop and were greeted by the friendly artisan.

Gaj was a small shop indicative of a one-man operation, which uses about two thirds of the space as a showroom, whilst the remaining back space was clearly the artisan's workshop.

Leather-Craftsman1

We perused all manner of accessories from leather bags, bins and seats down to wallets, key chains and chop/stamp holders, the latter possibly unique to Seoul. As we browsed, the artisan mentioned in broken English that he could customise any object with our names.

Whilst colourful and protectively coated with a shiny finish, all objects were constructed from a hard leather material, which I guess could soften a little over time and with alot of use. But none of the items appealed to me.

Leather-Craftsman2

There was no doubt that the creation and decoration were likely to have been made by the very hands in that shop, but they lacked the rustic or rugged touch of leather that I prefer. But that's just my preference.

What wasn't in the store's favour was that I had seen lots of similar products already in several markets we'd visited in Seoul, so any sense of uniqueness was lost.

However, if anything in the photos appeal to you, then by all means, Gaj is a shop worth dropping by in, particularly if you want a bit of customisation done.

Getting to Gajukgongyebang

Travel to Ewha Womans University metro stop on Line 2 and go out via Exit 2. You'll get to ground level at one corner of a junction, and without crossing a road, you can either head left or right. You need to take the right one which heads up a street towards the university.

You'll pass a shopping centre on the left with a little square in front of it, and then after that, turn down the first street/alley on the left. Gaj is a small shop on the left hand side about twenty metres down. There was a table of leather goods outside the shop when we visited.

Gaj is open everyday from noon to 9pm.

Leather-Craftsman-Exterior


This entry posted in : Shopping. South Korea.

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