Hongdae: Seoul’s Camden

I was prompted to reminisce about Hongdae (홍대) by my friend and classmate Michael. After spending more than a year studying Korean here in London, he is now moving out to Seoul to work as an English teacher there (화이팅 Michael!)

When musing about what he’d miss about London, he commented “Seoul doesn’t have an alternative scene. I mean, there’s no Camden!”, at which point I had to interject. Hongdae (the area surrounding Hongik University) is arguably the coolest area in Seoul, bustling with young indie kids, rock music and funky shops.

These pics give a little snapshot of the vibrancy of arty displays and colourful vintage marts that you will undoubtedly stumble upon when strolling around:

The alternative music scene is also huge in Hongdae. If you go to the main square, amid the artists and designers selling unique crafts and items, you will find a number of musicians rooting to show off examples of their work. They will play you original tracks though headphones, in the hope that you will be impressed and buy a CD.

Live musicians also dot the area. This awesome band (I wish I knew the name) attracted quite an audience as they played in the subway:

And rest assured that Hongdae is filled with a variety of equally cool cafes and bars to keep you fed and watered throughout the day and into the night.

So Seoul isn’t all Lotte and K-pop. There is a weirder, rockier side that should delight Londoners longing for the quirk of Camden.

  • Reach Hongdae by subway: Hongik University Station (line 2)
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