Art explodes over street walls, in vintage stores and kitsch cafes. On glittering dark nights the young and the hip surge onto Hongdae‘s streets, spilling out onto the ramshackle main street where neon signs flash like thousands of stars advertising jazz bars, barbecue joints, karaoke rooms and basements full of club kids downing cheap tequila in the hopeless dark.
Hongdae park swells with drunks, beatboxers, amateur rappers and kids dancing on top of the toilet roof. They tumble down the street into Exit bar for hookups and electro beats, until the pale light of dawn whispers across the sky and the coffeeshops get filled up with crashed out Asian sleepy-heads waiting for the subway to open at 5.30am, which will take them home to mum and later church, smiling painfully in their Sunday best.
Then all that’s left is the quiet melancholy of a grey morning until the stores open at 11 am, shiny and sweet for Korean cuties to shop and talk for the rest of the day.
I spent a year living in Hongdae in the Korean capital, Seoul. Over the next few days I’ll post a guide to my favourite restaurants, bars and live music venues in the area. I’d love to hear your recommendations too.