Boardgaming in Korea: First Alleyway

Over the years I’ve covered a lot of board game shops and board game cafes in Seoul but I’d be remiss to not mention my hometown, Gwangju. For several years now there has been a local haunt for tabletop folks at an eatery, The First Alleyway. This isn’t a place that sells any games or gaming supplies. It’s a full up restaurant. However you’ll find it’s a place open to folks playing games at the establishment.


The place is well lit with several tables that can handle 4 people spaciously, or smaller tables for couples that can be shifted around to accommodate larger groups. While it doesn’t sell board games, there is a decent selection of games on hand. The choices lean towards lighter fare like King of Tokyo, Smallworld, Settlers of Catan, and Ticket to Ride, but a few meaty games like Dominion can be found too.

Just one of the various game shelves throughout the place.

Just one of the various game shelves throughout the place.

The policy of the place for playing games is relaxed. As long as people are buying food and drinks, the owner is open to people playing games at the tables. However on some packed nights during the early evening rush, they might gently ask some folks to move over to tables by the bar if people are more inclined to be just drinking coffee and water.

The interesting news for the place is that the second floor of the building will be open soon exclusively for gaming. A handful of tables will be set up, along with a more extensive game library including RPGs and classic hex and counter wargames (the owner has a soft spot for ASL). There is also a larger table set up for miniature wargaming along with another room that will be host for workbenches if people need some dedicated space for painting.

Now I’ve focused on the gaming potential of First Alleyway which is possible here, but understand you are playing at a public restaurant, so expect all the limitations and issues that come with that. But there are also some major plusses in the manner of craft beers and great western food. A staple selection of hamburgers, (real) pizza, sandwiches, and salads can be found on the menu. Not to mention a variety of offerings for the classic Canadian comfort food, poutine. The place also has a full bar with staff more learned in the art of pouring cocktails than some other places in the city. And their selection of beer is top notch.


Its location and more info can be found on their facebook page. Gwangju is known for its Korean food. If you ever visit Korea, you are doing a disservice to yourself not to eat local. Yet if spending some time in Korea you might eventually have a hankering for something a little closer to home, and this restaurant certainly fits the bill. However if you are keen on checking out the local gaming scene, the First Alleyway is a must stop. A great place to play board games and at the very least have a drink or two.