Walking down the streets in Korea you are sure to come across many coffee shops, but what are those odd looking windows full of figurines and antiques?
Prop shops have become a large draw in Korea for many young adults for their variety of cute decorations and overall aesthetics. They are scattered amongst all the other shops, more unassuming than the bright fashion stores next door, and draw people in with their large selection of products, aesthetically-pleasing displays, and cute interiors.
As opposed to many of the large shopping malls in Korea and modern brand stores that pepper the streets nowadays, prop shops began as small stores within a neighborhood owned by local families. People in the area could do their shopping right down the street. However, as Korea developed, larger chains appeared to meet those needs and prop shops began to cater less to those home essentials and more to decoration and niche items.
Many prop shops are smaller in size and have a cozy feeling with warm lighting and wooden displays. Some veer more towards a vintage vibe where you get lost in time among the muted colors and old wrought lamps. Others even choose brighter colors like pinks to match their bright merchandise (although it still remains welcoming and warm).
Prop shops vary in their exact aesthetic and merchandise, but many feature items for decorating. This can mean things from figurines and stuffed animals to various stationery as well as cups, plates, utensils, and sometimes things you would see in a secondhand or vintage shops (old gumball machines or toasters). Stepping into a prop shop, you never know exactly what you’ll find! They usually feature a variety of character goods, including merchandise of various characters that are popular worldwide such as Peanuts characters, Troll dolls, and Studio Ghibli items.
One of the more popular items amongst shoppers is stationery. Prop shops can have shelves and shelves of all types of stationery you can imagine: washi tapes, pens, adorable memo pads, postcards, rows and rows of sticker sheets, and blank notebooks ready to be filled… It’s a journalist’s dream!
Many people come away from prop shops with cute cups or figurines. Prop shops generally steer away from the more popular merchandise that can be easily found in chain stores, and carry items that may be more outdated or niche. If you have a hankering to find some old Snoopy stuffed animals or a cute set of forks from the 1980s, prop shops are the place to go!
YouTubers CozyDay 코지데이 often make videos on prop shops so you can see what kinds of goods are sold and what beautiful displays they curate. Even if you are across the world, you can take a peek into what Korean prop shops are like!
Some of the more famous ones in Seoul are:
- 1107 – Yangcheon-gu, Seoul
- Object – various locations in Seoul such as Hongdae, Hapjeong, Mangwon, Yeonnam)
- Mimidonut – Hongdae, Seoul
- Maison de ALOHA – Hongdae, Seoul
If you’re in Korea, prop shops are a unique opportunity to browse. Their displays are carefully set up to draw people in, and each shop is an experience that you can’t find anywhere else!
Written by Annikki Leppa