Hongdae (Hongik Univ.), Seoul

Hongdae is one of Seoul’s busiest and most popular nightlife and entertainment areas. It also has had a large tourist attraction over the last ten years and many love it’s bohemian and youthful vibe. One beautiful Spring Sunday, I decided to take my camera and take some pictures of this vibrant area in Seoul.

Hongik University/Hongdae

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Hongdae is home to Hongik University. The university is popular for its arts faculty and many come here to study fashion design and art. A few years ago, I was invited to check out a really cool art and design exhibition for graduates at the university. Conceptual art pieces, sculptures and textile designs on handbags and apparel were on display.

You can see many international students on the campus as it popularity continues to grow. The presence of this university has led the area to become a hot spot for trendy fashion boutiques, markets and parties. Concept stores are frequent and new designers and brands from Korea love launching their businesses in this area. There are also a few interesting museums in the area that sell designers’ merchandise.

Nightlife

Hongdae is most popular for its nightlife. This is one of the busiest places in Seoul on a weekend. The area is busy with dance shows, busking singers and various performances during the day and night. The streets all contain various bars and night clubs that offer a wide range of music for all tastes. This also a hot spot for live bands playing in small underground bars from death metal, rock, indie to alternative.

I’ve spent many a weekend in this area and you never get tired of discovering it. There are always new places, restaurants and new clubs to visit. Fun times.

Shopping

Hongdae is an amazing place to shop for all budgets. Keep in mind that they are surrounded by a university, so goods are almost always on sale and offered at amazing discounts to keep students happy every day. The streets are lined with new brands and independent boutiques that are rather well priced. There are even big retailers such as Bershka and H&M.

You can find a sale and bargain at almost any store around here. Its frantic on weekends, but its def worth a gander. There are also many second-hand stores. You will have to look for more closely for these, as they are almost always underground. You’ll see the signs between big stores, then you will have to walk downstairs and rummage through them. I found a really cool vintage store just off the main streets, but it was expensive….think KRW 70, 000 ($70) a dress. In my opinion, you can get better and cheaper.

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Keep a look out for hole in the wall shops offering everything for under KRW 20, 000 ($20)!

The streets

I find the streets of Hongdae rather unique. It’s a mish mash of people and a place that lacks pretentiousness compared to a lot of party and entertainment areas in Seoul. It’s somewhere you can dress down or up for.

Like most of the urban planning in Seoul, the buildings are packed and full of signs littered all over them. Practically any space can be made into a store or place of business. This only adds to its charm and it’s amazing how they can decorate any space to suit the theme of the brand. You always feel like you are stumbling upon something unique here. There are lots of cool spaces, and you can find cool graffiti murals between the alleys.

Eating

Hongdae has lots of cool coffee shops and restaurants on the main streets and some tucked away in alleys. They cater for all budgets and you can find just about anything here. There are also street food vendors offering food for as little as KRW 6,000 ($6). The variety is unlimited too. On my last visit, I found a lamb restaurant. I haven’t had lamb in months. I had a traditional Korean spicy sauce with lamb and vegetables.

 

Hello Kitty Cafe

Wow, since I last went to this café in 2012 it has changed A LOT! My first experience at this café was at this branch in 2011. It has since had a major upgrade and is now housed on it’s own little property with a quaint garden. It’s now bigger than most Korean apartments.

 

I’ll write a more detailed post on this amazing upgrade soon.

Visit Hongdae!

Hongdae is definitely one of the places to check out in Seoul. It has art museums, entertainment, shopping and dining all in one area. Whenever, I’ve had friends visit me in Korea, I would always take them here for the day or evening. Today, it still remains one of my favourite places.

Safe travels,

Bee

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