I found out about the ReDo Backpackers Hostel and Pub through Workaway when I was looking for a cool opportunity to spend a couple weeks in South Korea. When I came across Damien’s project (the founder of ReDo) I knew it was one I wanted to be involved with. This backpackers hostel is located on the east coast of Korea in a small town called Jumunjin, a few minutes’ walk from the ocean. Knowing I didn’t want to spend all two weeks in the crowded mega-city of Seoul, this was calling to me. The real kicker though is that ReDo is a hostel focused on recycling and sustainability!
Thankfully, Damien said I could come aboard and help for a bit and I had an amazing time watching the hostel evolve even in my short visit. I can’t recommend it enough to sustainably-focused travelers looking for a quieter location in Korea and the chance to meet fellow travelers.
THE REDO BACKPACKERS HOSTEL CONCEPT:
The property for the ReDo Backpackers Hostel was acquired in March and only opened to visitors during around July of 2018 so it’s still pretty new. Damien, the founder, traveled around the world for several years himself and had a major takeaway: there is so much trash worldwide, much of which could be given a second life with a little TLC. Especially in Korea, where waste litters the sidewalks on any given street, you can find perfectly good furniture, decorations, and other goods just waiting to be rescued from a life in the landfill.
Damien wanted to create a hostel with the concept of doing just that – rescuing waste from the streets and building a place out of these upcycled goods for international travelers to explore Jumunjin. Though he was the only employee when I visited in September, volunteers from all around the world have flocked to ReDo to leave their footprint (so to speak) on the hostel. From building the bunk-beds and furniture, to rescuing bikes and dressers from the streets, to creating promotional videos and marketing campaigns, to helping with the daily upkeep of a guest house, the volunteers have turned the ReDo idea into a reality.
Here’s a short video made by one of the volunteers about Redo Backpackers Hostel:
THE REDO BACKPACKERS HOSTEL PROPERTY:
ReDo Backpackers Hostel is a 2-story guesthouse with 7 guest rooms varying from 1-bed singles to 10-bed dorm rooms. The bunk beds and stairs were constructed from recycled and donated wood, designed and hand-made by volunteers. There are two staff rooms where the volunteers stay as well. For the future, Damien hopes to install solar panels and have the hostel running on sustainable, green-energy sources too.
The furniture is a mix-matched and beautiful conglomeration of donated items: chairs, couches, fuzzy blankets, pillows, tables, lamps, suitcases, and even scuba and surf gear. Other pieces are also made from wood found around Jumunjin – tables, a shelf for board games, shoe racks, bookshelves, bathroom signs – all created by volunteers. Likewise, donated and crafted art pieces cover the walls and ceilings, hang from the railings, and decorate the spaces in between.
There’s large kitchen with almost any kitchen utensil you could need. All donated. A wonderful bar area with a bar – you guessed it – built from volunteers serves drinks and plays music through the evening. In front of the hostel, a picnic table and lounge chairs beckon to guests. Shared music, campfire songs, and cookouts bring strangers together and turn them into friends. And on top of the hostel, there’s an entire roof with space for sunrise yoga classes and tables for digital nomads to check their emails, all while overlooking the town of Jumunjin and the East Sea just outside.
During the day, it’s full of work – volunteers calling for Damien to read a script, approve a construction project, or give them the grocery list for their visit into town. At night, volunteers and guests join in the bar or lounge areas to share drinks and stories. And other times there’s group excursions to beach parties, protests to protect the environment, national parks, or music festivals in the nearby city, Gangneung. Always something to do and someone to meet.
THE REDO BACKPACKERS HOSTEL ROOMS:
The seven rooms each vary endearingly, with their own unique touches depending on what the volunteer artists made or found during their stay. Some rooms have colorful bookshelves, others have brightly-colored fish painted onto wooden planks, others with comfy chairs overlooking the glass wall with sea-side views. I can attest that the mattresses are brand new (I helped unpack a shipment for several rooms). With big comforters when needed and comfy pillows, it’s been one of the best sleeps I’ve had in many a hostel. Choose from a private room or a dorm bed depending on the size of your party and your preference.
THE REDO BACKPACKERS HOSTEL ART STORE:
One of my favorite parts of Redo is the art store. Many of the volunteers who visit the hostel have artistic skills and spend their volunteering time creating works of art. Paintings on canvas and wood, mosaics of sea life, and anything in-between. The saying “if you can dream it, you can do it” has never been truer for me than in ReDo.
When a volunteer creates a piece of art, it immediately gets put to work decorating a space in the hostel. The cool part though is that all of the art pieces are for sale. When someone comes along interested in buying a piece, almost anything is up for grabs. The proceeds from the sale then goes back to the artist, wherever they are in the world.
THE REDO BACKPACKERS HOSTEL PUB:
The pub at ReDo Backpackers Hostel is sometimes staffed by volunteers, sometimes by Damien himself. But it’s always a great place for a beer! With huge window space, lots of games, and plenty of table-space, it’s a wonderful spot for socializing whether you’re there to drink and dance or challenge your fellow travelers to an intense gaming session. I’ve seen many people spend much more time there than they intended, and gone to bed several times to the sounds of laughter and music tempting me away from my reasonable slumber.
THE REDO BACKPACKERS HOSTEL COSTS:
A night at the ReDo Backpacker Hostel will run around 25,000 Korean Won or around $23 USD depending on the room. A pint of beer goes for about $3500, and use of bikes, most swimming gear, games, and all kitchen supplies are free!
THE REDO BACKPACKERS HOSTEL LOCATION:
Jumunjin is about a 3.5 hour bus ride from Seoul. It’s a part of Gangneung city, which is right by PeyongChang where the 2018 Olympics were held. The entire town of Jumunjin is right by the ocean and as such, you can get seafood just about anywhere if you fancy. It’s a small town with a much quieter feel than Gangneung, which is much quieter still than Seoul.
When the weather is warm, you can surf, swim, walk through the fish market, ride bikes along the coast, or go hiking in the Odeasan National Park. When the weather cools, you can try your hand at all the sports featured in the 2018 Olympics! Skiing, snowboarding, ice-hockey and whatever else you might want to attempt are possible in Gangneung and PeyongChang among the mountain ranges.
To get here from Seoul, take the metro via Line 2 to the Dong-Seoul Bus Complex Terminal (which you’ll be able to see on the metro map). Once you get there, grab a ticket to Jumunjin at one of the ticket machines. I recommend grabbing some snacks afterward, but that might just be me. The bus ride is about 3.5-4 hours with a short bathroom break in the middle. You could walk from there, but I recommend grabbing any bus north and taking it 4 or 5 stops and walking from there instead. A 5-10 minute walk and you’ll see the big banners for ReDo Backpacker Hostel and Pub waving from the rooftop.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE REDO BACKPACKERS HOSTEL:
I absolutely loved my stay at ReDo (or I wouldn’t be writing about it – that’s for sure). The mission of saving goods that would otherwise be destined for a landfill is something that really resonates with me. Aside from the sustainability factor, I really can’t emphasize how great of a vibe this hostel has. It is truly fulfilling the mission of creating a community for international travelers and local Korean visitors alike. I was only there for two weeks but I felt incredibly welcomed by everyone and inspired by the freedom to dive in and help improve ReDo however I could.
If you’re looking to volunteer too, sign up for Workaway and give Damien and the ReDo project a search. If you’re looking for a social experience or want to see a different side to Korea than the bustling city of Seoul, this is your place. When you visit, keep an eye out for my pieces of artwork scattered throughout the hostel, and tell Damien and the other volunteers I send a hug and a hello!
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Looking for more on accommodations or sustainable travel? Try these next:
>>> Sustainable Travel & Responsible Tourism
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