By Min Joo
Sinchon, located near Ewha, Sogang, and Yonsei University, is often defined as the heart of university culture in Korea. Flashy lights and the neon signs of restaurants, karaoke rooms, bars, and the sounds of loud cheering with clinks of beer glasses invite students into the so-called pleasure seeking ?ulture?of university life. However, amidst the bustling streets triggering consumerism and providing enjoyment for students merely seeking fun, stands a cafe called ?he Dream of a Little Bud,? sprouting to establish a healthy and sound culture in the heart of Sinchon.
The cafe, "The Dream of a Little Bud,"(Little Bud) was founded in 1998 by a non-governmental organization called the Korean University Student? Popular Culture Observer Group (Observer Group). It is a cafe managed by a group of university students, who all share the vision of planting the seeds of a healthy and productive cultural atmosphere in Sinchon. This cafe, which can be used with only a small fee, possesses a quiet and cozy atmosphere where no alcohol or smoking is allowed. Moreover, people can reserve rooms for seminars or study groups which can hold from five to 20 people.
Little Bud is found near the residential area by heading forward from the second corner after coming out of Sinchon Station exit number two. Its lively green signboard greets people into the friendly atmosphere. The stone steps lead into the cafe where there is a small pond with fish and various plants, so that one can feel a pure and unpolluted sense of nature. Inside the cafe, there are numerous books donated by the founding members of Observer Group. There is even a piano for anyone that wants to share their music. "Sometimes, there are people who would tell us to turn off the music so that they can play their music for the people who are there,"smiled the manager, Lee Ae-ra (Sogang Univ., 3).
Lee has been serving as the manager since the beginning of 2006. "To establish a sound culture for university students, sacrifices must be made. It is easy to possess a certain vision, but not as easy to actually put our thoughts into action,"says Lee who feels grateful to have received the chance. Currently, there are eight workers called pulssi jigi, or, keepers of the little bud. They receive no pay and are working to achieve the vision that they share. Usually, these jigis are selected every semester through interviews. "I share the vision but I also wanted to learn about the management of a cafe because I am interested in opening my own,"said Kang Byung-hoon (Hongik Univ., 4) who is one of the current pulssi jigis.
Every third Friday of each month, the cafe holds enriching performances where students can share their talents and provide cultural experiences for others. The cafe is currently decorated with paintings by Lee Nam-sook, a n artist in her fifties, who also feels empathy toward the road that the cafe is taking.
"This cafe is yet a little bud, but it has the potential to grow into a tree as I can see and feel the improvements that this cafe has made over the years. It will continue to grow and one day, finally reach the ultimate goal of overcoming the consumerist culture in Sinchon. I, with all the other jigis and our supporters, will strive until the day that Little Bud starts to open its second and third chain cafes,"added Lee with determination.