If you ask almost any college-aged Korean or Seoul-residing expat what Hongdae is, you'll get an opinion of some sort. What Hongdae, means, in short, is a Korean abbreviation for Hongik University, which is well known for its Art department. And the nightlife and shopping district in the vicinity of the university is a living, breathing expression of art in motion. In the 1980s, there were pockets of pubs, small restaurants, used-book stores, art supply stores and art institutions. However, since the 90s, the place has boomed with eclectic restaurants, unique cafes, a dazzling nightlife, and a rowdy underground. In the daytime, the area is popular for its shopping and coffee talk, but at night, things really light up, when hordes of young Koreans and foreigners converge on the area to take in what the night has to offer. Whether it’s hip-hop, trip-hop, punk, or even folk, the Hongdae music scene has it. In particular, Hongdae is the place for live-clubs and watching underground stars perform in clubs or spilling out onto the streets.
Back in 2001, a monthly event started in Hongdae, called Club Day. On the last Friday of every month, thousands pack the streets and clubs and pay a 15,000-won payment which grants you admission to ten Hongdae-area clubs. But get your tickets early, as there is a limit.
The area is best reached by subway via Sangsu Station (line 6) or Hongik University Station (line 2).
Restaurants in Hongdae
Hongdae has many restaurants to choose from, however, as the average Korean, Japanese, and Chinese restaurants are in abundance throughout Korea and are easy for foreigners to find, the following restaurants reflect a sampling of restaurants considered to be either popular or are western-friendly choices and other world cuisines.