Hongdae area

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Hongdae area
Wausan-ro 21-gil Hongdae.JPG
Shops on Wausan-ro 21-gil opposite Hongdae Playground
Korean name
Revised Romanization Hongdaeap
McCune–Reischauer Hongdaeap

The Hongdae Area (Hangul: 홍대앞; hanja: 弘大앞) is a region in Seoul, South Korea near Hongik University, after which it is named. It is known for its urban arts and indie music culture, clubs and entertainments. The area is located in Mapo-gu in the western end of Seoul, stretching from Seogyo-dong to Hapjeong-dong.


Hongdae (Hangul: 홍대) is an abbreviation of Hongik Daehakgyo, Hongik University (학교). The term 'hongdae' is usually used in regards to Hongik University which has one of the nation's top fine arts colleges in South Korea.


independent clothing stalls on Eoulmadang-ro

Hongdae area is known for its indie spirit, urban street arts and underground band musicians. Many known bands like Jaurim, Crying Nut and Peppertones are from this street and started as indie bands. The area provides street art festivals and performances, as well as music concerts by independent artists and mainstream entertainers.

Under the influence of Hongik University (Hongdae) which is well known for its prestigious art college, the neighborhood was built on a foundation of artistic souls since the 1990s. In the early days, thanks to the cheap rent back, budget musicians and street artists started moving into the ateliers of Hongdae area. Now many of them had later transform into cafes or live music venues and the area has long had a reputation as the mecca of urban arts and underground club culture.[1] Despite the recent explosion of upmarket brand shops that pushes artists to move toward the southern area near Hapjeong Station, new indie rock bands show up every year and the street still enjoys a reputation as the city’s prime spot for indie musicians. YG Entertainment, the major K-pop agency is also located near the street.

Hello Kitty cafe on an uphill alley off Eoulmadang-ro
Hongdae Playground street merchants on Wausan-ro 21-gil

The area also has an artistic and cultural with art galleries, studios, theaters, design shops and is also home to cafes, bars, restaurants, and nightclubs.[2][3] Which draws revelers from a wide range of backgrounds, particularly university students, ESL teachers, and tourists. Some of the most well-known nightclubs are m2, nb2, Vera, and Cocoon. Nb2 is especially famous because it is run by one of three largest Korean entertainment agency, YG Entertainment, along with variety of hip hop music to please the customers' ears.[4]

Apart from art and culture, Hongdae is also home to reasonably priced independent clothing stalls, discount and vintage shops, especially along the main thoroughfare of Eoulmadang-ro, that caters to those wanting individuality with creativity.[5] As well as kitschy, quirky and eclectic theme cafes, such as the Charlie Brown Cafe, themed with Peanuts characters, Hello Kitty Cafe, Bau House Cafe for dogs and puppies, Gio Cat Cafe, and Dr. Fish Cafe.[6]

The Hongdae Playground, also known as Hongik Children's Park, located between Wausan-ro and Wausan-ro 21-gil opposite Hongik University is home to street vendors who sell their wares in the evenings. It has also been used for location filming for MBC drama The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince[7] in 2007, KBS drama Mary Stayed Out All Night in 2010; and SBS drama A Gentleman's Dignity in 2012.


Hongdae Playground in 2012

Zandari Festa[edit]

Zandari Festa[8] is named after 'Zandari', the old name for the Hongdae area street. 'Zandari' implies small bridge, and the festivals' ambition is also to be a bridge between the artists and audiences around the local indie music scene. Every Fall, it is held over 3 days in the pre-scheduled hosting live clubs. The festival encourages bands to invite themselves, artists are also encouraged to take part in planning and promoting the shows they play in.

Live Club Day[edit]

Since March 2001, 'Club Day' started as a wristband-powered event which allows entry to more than a dozen clubs for the price of one. After 2007, 'Sound Day' also launched together with the indie music concert venues. During 2008 through early 2009 they were suspend due to high levels of violence and disturbances by US army soldiers and underage individuals. They reopened again but came to close soon in January 2011 (as the 117th Club Day), mainly due to the dispute over the distribution of profits between popular live/dance clubs and other budget ones.

After a four year break, in January 2015, six live clubs established the 'Live Club Cooperative' and with other clubs, they resumed the 'Live Club Day' on February 27.[9] The 'Live Club Day' is held on the last Friday of every month. The ticket system is the same as before, one can get access to multiple clubs for a variety of genres including rock, jazz, hip hop and electronic with one ticket.

Street Art Exhibition[edit]

During early 1990s, students from the College of Fine Arts at Hongik University began to decorate the streets, walls, and roads around the college. Their efforts were soon joined by many artists from across the country and the first 'Street Art Festival' was held in 1993.[10] Every year, students of Hongik University and neighbor artists join to produce diversity of visual arts on Hongdae streets like graffiti wall painting, installation arts and performances.

Free Market[edit]

'Hongdaeap Artmarket Freemarket'[11] is held on 'Hongdae Playground', that is in front of the main gate of Hongik University. It holds on weekends, from March to November at 13:00 to 18:00 by the host of the nonprofit organization 'Living and Art Creative Center (일상예술창작센터)'[12] since 2002. The flea markets are called "Free Market" on Saturdays and "Hope Market" on Sundays. They are fledgling craft markets of things made by students and street artists.[13][14][15] Other culture markets have been influenced by this original playground Freemarket and open randomly around the Hongdae area.


The area is served by subway via Hongik University Station (Line 2), Hapjeong Station (Line 2 and Line 6), and Sangsu Station (Line 6). Also, various Seoul bus lines reach the street.

In popular culture[edit]

The exterior of The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince in Hongdae

The remodeled coffee shop used as a filming location for 2007 MBC drama The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince is located in Hongdae. The cafe in the namesake drama reopened after filming concluded with the wall flowers painting by Han Yoo-joo and other props from the drama on display. Also a scene in episode one where Han-kyul bought Yoo-joo a hat from a street vendor while they were out on a walk in the evening, was filmed along Wausan-ro between the Hongdae Playground and Hongik University.[7] The area along with the coffee shop was featured in a National Geographic Channel produced documentary on the Korean wave titled Seoul's Got Soul, in 2011.[16]

In 2011, a cafe in Hongdae was used as a filming location in tvN cable channel drama Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, showing Jung Il-woo playing the male lead of Cha Chi-soo with his friends.[17]


  1. ^ "Indie spirit lives on in Hongdae’s cafes and clubs". JoongAng Daily. 2011-05-25. 
  2. ^ Garcia, Cathy Rose A. (19 August 2009). "Foreigners Invited to Discover Different Side of Hongdae". Korea Times. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Garcia, Cathy Rose A. (2 October 2008). "Rediscovering Hongdaes Artistic Side". Korea Times. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  4. ^ Lim, Hyun-wook (20 November 2010). "Hongdae’s bohemian raps and dancing". Joongang Daily. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  5. ^ "Hongdae Hedonism – A Haven For Young Fashion Experts". Korea Tourism Organization. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  6. ^ Heit, Shannon (2 August 2010). "Go for the coffee, stay for the ambience: Quirky cafes in Hongdae". Joongang Daily. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "The First Shop Of Coffee Prince". Korean TV Drama. Korea Tourism Organization. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  8. ^ Zendari Festa Official Site
  9. ^ Kim Da-sol (2015-01-28). "Hongdae’s ‘Live Club Day’ to resume after long hiatus". Korea Herald. 
  10. ^ Hongdae Street Art Festival Official Site
  11. ^ Freemarket Official Website
  12. ^ Living and Art Creative Center (일상예술창작센터)
  13. ^ "Hongdae Free Market (홍대 프리마켓)". Korea Tourism Organization. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  14. ^ Lee Sun-young; Kim Young-won; Sang Youn-joo (21 September 2012). "Treasure hunting at flea markets: Community-based markets for secondhand goods thrive in Seoul". Korea Herald. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  15. ^ Lee Sun-young; Kim Young-won; Sang Youn-joo (21 September 2012). "Seoul’s best flea markets". Korea Herald. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  16. ^ "'Seoul's Got Soul' Coming to A Country Near You". Chosun Ilbo. 21 June 2011. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  17. ^ Lee, KyungNam (28 September 2011). "Jung Il Woo’s First Shoot for Flower Boy Ramen Shop". enewsWorld. CJ E&M. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 

External links[edit]