Jun 6th, 2012 | By | Category: Senior Travel

Hongdae, Korea – Full of Action for Senior Visitors

My Budget Travel Magazine (May-June, 2012, p. 22) had a full page on Hongdae, Korea.  I had never heard of Hongdae before, so I just had to explore a bit and wanted to share with you what I discovered. It is one exciting place. It is centered around and named for Korea’s most acclaimed college of fine arts. This quirky district comes alive with youthful buzz and creative energy as seniors take in a neat part of Seoul, the capital city of South Korea.

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. Where’s the best place to go in Seoul for shopping? clubbing? eating? drinking? music? cafe? meet people? If senior travelers had only one day in Seoul, and wanted to do everything listed above,  Hongdae would be a must.

The University and Indie Music

The Hongdae area is best known for its urban arts and indie music culture where spirit lives with urban street arts and underground band musicians. Indie rock is extremely diverse, with sub-genres (good luck with this…) that include indie pop, grunge, jangle pop, C86, and lo-fi, among others.  Many new music types get their first playings in Korea in local clubs.

The area is named after the the Hongik University. Hongik University has one of the most famous art departments in Korea. It follows that the coffee shops and restaurants near the university should also be artsy. The area has a Western atmosphere, without being an American ghetto like Itaewon. Many of the restaurants and clubs have original artwork inside by college artists. Take a “Walk with me” stroll in Hongdae and check it out for yourself.

Seniors Discover A Top-Notch Art School

The nation’s top art school, Hongik University, gives its name to a district full of vinyl-spinning basement bars, shoe-packed boutiques, cook-at-your-table barbecue and hand-drip coffee. While the streets maintain a calm during the week, the weekend brings a storm of local and expatriate fun-seekers. Minivans transform into wardrobes and graffiti become scenery – because in this northwestern neighborhood, the sidewalk is a catwalk.

The Free Market

At Hongdae the street performers, shopping, clubs, food…it’s all great! If you are interested in just roaming around Hongdae, here’s a map for you and have fun with the language. and this map I love…it is full of fun stuff. The directions are for getting from the subway station to Hongik Park (actually called Hongdae Playground) where the Free Market is so check it out. Be sure to take in the Market that is a makeshift gallery of up to 800 circulating vendors who sell a wide range of handmade, original objects geared primarily toward women, such as necklaces, earrings and other jewelry. While most of the vendors are clearly university students, others are artistic ajummahs (middle-age women), so there is a wealth of eclectic and creative stuff.

As per usual, I advise senior visitors to pick up a few words prior to your visit to Hongdae.  My Best Korean Websites should be of help in this area. jeb

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