We’ve made our way through some of the K-cities seeing all the traditional culture that Korea has to offer and of course, all the beautiful nature weaved throughout it too. But where do all the youths of Korea go? Well if you venture out from the city of Seoul and into the neighbourhoods it brings you to some of the most hip places where you can find all the Korean trends in one place! Here, we’re going into Hongdae, a neighbourhood in Mapo District, about a 20-minute subway ride from central Seoul.
The neighbourhood Hongdae is actually short for ‘Hongik Daehakgyo’ (Hongik University). So, the district around Hongik University is called 'Hongdae', one of the hottest places of the young. Hongik University is one that is renowned as an art and architectural degree college which is why you’ll see many university students here. Naturally, the streets in Hongdae have evolved into the tastes of the trendy youth. So often you'll find many upcoming singers busking and dancing on the streets to your favourite K-pop song or even self-composed ones too. Hongdae is filled with plenty of things to see and do to spark your own creative side too.
The Hongdae Mural Street is one of them! Filled with all sorts of different artistic yet fun murals that add even more charm and character to Hongdae. This is a small alley right next to the entrance of Hongik University. Its walls are filled with different art changing quite often, with new art being painted on the old ones each time. There’s plenty of these colourful murals done by the students of Hongik University all throughout Hongdae but Mural Street is one of the most known. If you're ever in Hongdae, definitely keep your eyes peeled because you never know there could be art painted on these walls that you wouldn’t have seen at first glance. There are even cafe and bar owners that paint the walls and doors to add their own quirk, even letting their customers and staff do the same. All these different murals are part of the fun as you hunt down each street in Hongdae making this neighbourhood stand out from the others even more.
While hunting down the streets, you’ll find plenty of stalls to shop to your heart’s content! Of course, there are malls from big brands but what’s unique about Hongdae is there’s opportunities to find more unique items. The Hongdae Free Market which is actually near the Hongdae Mural Street has a lot of students selling their handmade art pieces from sculptures, dolls to paintings and a heap of other forms of art. And if you are looking for all the K-fashion trends of the season or even vintage pieces, you’ll find countless stores like Sigonggan, where jewellery is stocked from top to bottom of the store, and at affordable prices too making it perfect for all the college students on a budget.
We can’t forget about all the cafes and restaurants that there are to visit. And you’ll be surprised that there are plenty of characters here as well. The Thanks Nature Cafe is just one of them, where you can satisfy any sweet tooth cravings with delicious waffles while having sheeps, Pfizer and Moderna as your fluffy companions. And if this didn’t shock you, the Meerkat Cafe will. Just like the name, this cafe has meerkats that you can interact with. Not only that you’ll also find arctic foxes and raccoons among other animals. Apart from animal cafes in Hongdae, it’s filled with a LOT of other unique “cafes” like graphic novel cafes, camping cafes and even a Harry Potter themed cafe. Something that gives Hongdae even more eccentricity than it already has ✨
And of course, with so many college students, the nightlife in Hongdae is a huge thing! With so many karaoke and clubs opening late, so do bars and restaurants with some even opening till dawn. It's no wonder many students and tourists come to Hongdae for a night out! One of these restaurants is Hanshin Pocha which caters towards those who want to drink too 🍺 A must-try is their signature dish, the “Hansin Chicken Feet.” It’s slowly steamed so it’s extra tender and soft which combines well with the spicy flavour, making it the best anju, a dish well-served with alcohol. It’s definitely one where a lot of students stop at in Hongdae!
A culture different from many other cities in Korea, the Hongdae neighbourhood is a must-go to see what all the trendsetters of Korea are doing. If you are in need of a shopping spree or pure entertainment, Hongdae is where it’s at for the hottest things to see. Inspired by the artsy students of Hongik University, it’s a place that will grab your attention no matter where you are and what you are doing.