As soon as I walked into the cafe, I immediately noticed the floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall display cases of dolls. I crossed the hard wood floors to put my things down and after ordering a drink, I took another walk around to check out the displays. Upon closer inspection, I saw that the dolls' features were almost identical to one another's and exemplified the standard of Korean beauty: small faces, porcelain white skin, high noses, big eyes. Not only were the eyes big, but many of them were shadowed with a shade of brown which, when paired with a slight smirk or a pout created a look that could only be described as sinister. Their outfits did vary, from Victorian dresses, to sailor getups, to goth apparel, to... wait for it... sheer lingerie. Don't get me wrong- the craftsmanship of the dolls was exquisite, but I couldn't help but be a bit creeped out.
I picked up my book and tried to start reading, quite unsuccessfully. I was far too distracted by the girl next to me staring intently at her doll with a wide smile across her face, her expression almost childlike. What was this? Did grown women really play with dolls? I pulled out my iPod and began Googling away.
I found that the dolls in the cafe- called Bluefairy dolls- are a brand of realistic, anime-influenced dolls that are manufactured in Korea but are hugely popular throughout the world. Doll enthusiasts and hobbyists (yes, there's such a thing) pay big bucks to collect these and other ball and joint dolls (BJD) that each have their own names, personalities, and sometimes brothers, sisters, boyfriends, and girlfriends. I found YouTube videos of girls excitedly opening their Bluefairy mail orders and introducing their collections spread throughout their bedrooms. The BJD hobby also includes sub-hobbies like sculpting, painting, accessory making, and artistic photography. There are even BJD meetups and conventions where enthusiasts flock to show off their customized toys.
Cafe Blue Fairy is open from 11AM-10PM on weekdays and 11AM-11PM on weekends. It is located near Hapjeong Station. Click here for map (Korean).