It seems to be a right of passage that when a new teacher joins my team at ChungDahm, within the first semester we as a group must all experience Hongdae together. Hongdae, located in Eastern Seoul, is one of the most popular areas for expats and university students alike. Located in front of Hongik University (Green subway line #2), it’s the perfect place to spend both the day and night. Here are some of my top suggestions to do while you are there.
In the daytime, Hongdae is roaring with shoppers and foodies alike. Since it is in the college district, a lot of the shopping and food is cheaper than other areas of Seoul. From cell phone accessories, contact lenses, to men’s and women’s apparel, Hongdae is full of good deals. The best part is that in many of the places, you can haggle your prices even more. Besides shopping there are many other reasons to visit in Hongdae while you are teaching in Korea. Here are my top five activities and places to visit:
1. Animal cafes: This is a huge trend here in Korea. Groups of friends will go to a cafe, have some coffee or tea, and play with the animals. In Hongdae, you can find cats, dogs, and even a sheep cafe! My favorite is the dog cafe because they are really excited to see you. Most of the cafes don’t have an entrance fee, you just have to purchase a drink. If you really want to have the animals fall in love with you, you can purchase snacks and feed it to them.
2. 3D Art Museum: Some of the most whimsical and fun pictures that I have taken were here in this museum. It’s fun to pretend like you’re been chased by a T-Rex, getting swallowed by a great white, or being in a bank vault with money falling flying all around. If you are going with a group of friends, I highly suggest this, make sure that you try and go for a group discount. Also, make sure to bring a camera with you because you will want to capture these memories.
3. Live-music: Whether it be in the park behind Hongik University subway station or the park in front of the university, there is usually live-music playing outdoors into the early morning. Many indie groups and dance groups will try their songs and choreography in front for onlookers to enjoy. Make sure to video record because sometimes, even famous K-pop singers will serenade the park with their new music.
4. Mike’s Cabin: Somewhat hidden in an underground basement, Mike’s Cabin is full of rowdy foreigners and Koreans. Here the drink specials are cheap, the music is good, and you can dance on top of speakers. This is the best place where I feel like you get the most value, especially because there is no cover charge. Everytime that I have gone, this place has been full so make sure to arrive early (between 9 and 10 p.m.) and save a seat. Also, take advantage of their locker storage if you can! There are a lot of places to party in Hongdae, so don’t be discouraged if this doesn’t suit your style.
5. Monster Pizza: This places offers the closest to New York style pizza that you will find in Korea. The lines can get long but the service is pretty fast. They only serve 3 styles of pizza (Spice Girl pizza is my favorite) and each one runs at 3500 won which is a bargain. It’s standing room only so many of us will eat outside. If you want to grab a beer with your pizza, itonly costs 4000 won. This place is open until 5AM so if you are in the area, make sure to stop by.
Hongdae is an awesome place where many memories can be made both during the day and night. If you are in Seoul, make sure you try to make it out here on a Saturday. There is so much to do in this tiny area!
Marc has been living in Seoul and working at the ChungDahm Learning' s Gangdong Branch for 4 years now. He has worked his way up from being a teacher and to a faculty manager for that location. He majored in Finance and Marketing at the University of Nevada Las Vegas while working as a manager for a national bank. In his spare time, he enjoys outdoor activities like hiking the numerous mountains around Seoul and biking along the massive Han River. To know more about him and his adventures living in Korea, follow Marc on Twitter @geonmakku and on Instagram @geonmakku.