Take subway line #2 (the green line) get off at HongIk University (홍대입구역) Station and right off the bat, you’ll notice a different atmosphere. The area gives off a sense of rebellious youth which is all the more surprising considering the traditional nature of Korea. While Hongdae is similar to many other college areas the fact that it is an Arts university means it attracts a different crowd. Street art can be found everywhere (along with signs of tagging) giving a “hip-hop” feel to the area. It’s pretty common to walk around on summer nights and find indie groups or aspiring students performing around tight circles; some of which is decent while others simply aren’t.
The shops here are open during day and into the night. Some of the styles here can lean towards the more eclectic but a lot remains to be explored. With clothing shops lining the street and wares changing out as often as they can, it’s really a random draw as to what you’ll find in this area. The wares you find here (don’t often but can) reflect the majority population here, which are students of the Arts. You’ll also find a 1300k (looks like “Book” but is pronounced as it sounds) here which sells a smattering assortment of trinkets and assortments that you’ll find in other trendy areas as well.
When you need a boost of energy the Snoopy Cafe, Hello Kitty Cafe, Cat Cafe, Dog Cafe are just a few places I know of to give you a dose of caffeine. In this area, there’s no reason to go to a Starbucks or Coffee Bean (but they’re here for you, just in case). Taco Bell (one of only two in the country), a Greek restaurant (the only one I’ve seen in Korea), Sushi in Sushi (decent sushi buffet) and Subway (sandwiches) can be found to satisfy your hunger after walking these long streets if you’re looking for different fare from what you’ll usually find in Korea which is Korean food.
But it isn’t the atmosphere, food, or shopping that draws a heavy portion of the foreign crowd here it’s the nightlife. Clubs are scattered throughout the area, many of which house parties or video shoots for K-Pop idols. What sets these clubs apart from the rest in Korea is the obvious western slant, as these clubs are populated (sometimes overwhelmingly) with foreigners they don’t tend to conform to what Koreans define as a “club”. For the most part, you won’t find “booking clubs” or anything like that here, those can be found anywhere else. Here the clubs are closer to what they are back home (hot girls who’ll turn you down… yep, the memories). Unfortunately, another part of the foreign slant is the cover charge which is closer to some of the clubs you’ll find back home as well. If you’re looking for a Korean-styled bar or eats, Hongdaae will definitely accommodate with alleys and streets paved with them but the center of the nightlife here is definitely in the clubs.
Whether you’re looking for a good time or just some time to kill, Hongdae is always good for at least a few hours of your time.
BACK ALLEYS :
A lot of the back alleys around the area are home to some interesting street art. While it may not be everyone’s favorite past time to walk around taking photos of walls, for those of you who do it’s definitely a good use of one or two hours. In fact, sometimes small classes of photography students are seen walking the back alleys taking pictures for projects.