Exploring Korean Neighbourhoods: Hongdae

Whenever I visit Korea during the summer, my friends that live there tell me that I see more of the country in two months than they do in two years. This goes on to say how much I go out and explore different parts of the country. That said, trust me when I say I’ve visited my fair share of neighbourhoods in Korea. Hongdae, the neighbourhood highlighted in today’s post, holds a special place in my heart. It was where I went to my first ever concert, which I still remember like yesterday. Hongdae is actually short for Hongik Daehakgyo (Hongik University). In Korea, it is common to have neighbourhoods named after the major university of that area. Hongik University is one of Seoul’s fine arts colleges and has famous alums, such as Loco (rapper) and GRAY (rapper/producer).

The Hongdae neighbourhood was first developed shortly after the founding of Hongik University during the 1950s. At the time, the cheap rent of the area attracted many aspiring artists and musicians. From there, Hongdae eventually developed into a neighbourhood widely known for its local music scene and art culture. It is now home to one of Korea’s biggest music industries, YG Entertainment. You can find many street performances when walking the streets of Hongdae. From buskers to dance groups, Hongdae presents many talented artists. As it is home to many artistic souls, you will also notice that the people in Hongdae dress differently. Their outfits are all artistically crafted, and each one portrays the uniqueness of each individual. The fashion is actually one of my favourite things about this neighbourhood. I love visiting simply for the reason of people-watching. Looking at everyone’s carefully coordinated outfits leaves me feeling very inspired. That said, Hongdae has some killer clothing stores as well.

Hongdae also boasts a lively night scene, popular among young people. It is a stark contrast to the day scene. There are countless different clubs and many cocktail bars as well. Many young people looking for a fun night can be found making their way to this neighbourhood. Even if you’re not a big party person, I recommend you check out Hongdae’s nightlife just for the experience. There are also lots of night buskers, and the scene gets beautiful when all the streetlights light up.

When visiting Hongdae, you must check out Hongdae mural street. It is precisely what it sounds like: a street covered in murals. While this may boring, it is the perfect way to check out some talented local artists’ art. You will be captivated by the uniqueness of each mural. This neighbourhood is also the perfect place to attend a birthday cafe event, as Hongdae is home to a wide range of birthday cafes. If you are unfamiliar with birthday cafe events, they are basically a celebration of a Kpop idol’s birthday. Fan clubs rent out a cafe and decorate it with pictures and balloons. They customize cup sleeves and hand them out to all fans that purchase a drink. While this may seem overboard, it is an event that brings together many fans. Many people have fun exchanging photo cards and talking about their favourite Kpop idols. If you are a fan of Kpop, it is worth attending one. Of course, you also cannot go to Hongdae without visiting Yoon’s Grill. They are known for their samgyeopsal (Korean pork belly), which is juicy, tender, and perfectly grilled. Coming from someone who is not a huge fan of pork, trust me when I say Yoon’s Grill knows what they’re doing. They also have a wide variety of side dishes, all worth trying.

Even just writing about Hongdae makes me want to visit again. Oh, to walk those streets again. I hope this post helped learn more about Hongdae’s history and what it is known for. If you do get the chance to visit this neighbourhood, I hope you check out some of the places mentioned above!

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