Just when every coffee place in whole wide world was beginning to look like an identikit Williamsburg hipster joint, along comes something very different.
YND239-20 is a quirky cafe that’s delighting visitors to Seoul, South Korea, thanks to its super cute cartoon decor.
Stepping into YND239-20 feels like entering the black-and-white world of a cartoon. It’s a cleverly conceived real-world optical illusion that’s made the cafe a must-visit for decor-loving Instagrammers.
Real world optical illusion
The cafe’s interior is painted white, with every object or detail outlined in black to give the space an intriguing pen-and-paper look. The real-world furniture blends seamlessly into the wall art, which includes zany picture frames and a dog looking in from a window.
Marketing manager JS Lee tells CNN Travel that the cafe’s name comes from the Seoul address: Yeon-Nam-Dong 239-20. Its main aim, Lee says, is to provide a memorable experience for guests.
“It’s been successful because our customers all take pictures,” Lee says. “We became famous very naturally.”
The “Instagrammification” of cafes, art galleries and public spaces is a seemingly growing phenomenon – after all, the more your business appears on social media feeds around the world, the more foot fall you’re likely to see.
The popularity of spots such as the Museum of Ice Cream – which caused a splash when it began dominating Manhattanite social media feeds in 2016 – illustrates the phenomenon in action.
More cynical critics would argue these places risk becoming all aesthetic and no substance, but visitors to YND239-20 are keen to stress it’s earned its place on the social media bucket list.
It helps that the owners have created a welcoming environment.
Instagram user @hannahinternational says the owner of the cafe was incredibly accommodating. “She was really sweet,” she tells CNN Travel.
Meanwhile fellow Instagrammer @mmarichell spotlights the coffee, adding it was “very sweet but also very dark.”
Not heading to South Korea any time soon? YND239-20 might be heading to you.
Lee says the success of the cafe has prompted the owners to consider starting a franchise and taking the concept beyond Korea is on, um, the drawing board.