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Painting the Town Brown: Hoppin’ Around Hapjeong, a walking tour

April 4, 2010

Hapjeong is the east side of many foreigners’ favorite city district: Hongdae. Hongdae is the site of the major art university in town, Hongik University (the suffix ‘dae‘ is short for daehak or ‘college’) and thus the site of some of the best nightlife and coffee shops you’ll find north of the river. Much of people’s familiarity with this part of town is with the area’s west end, the site of the actual Hongik Univ subway station, though the area’s real draw is the east end, in the area between the Hapjeong and Sangsu subway stations.

Graffiti art near Sangsu Station

There are two major draws in this part of Hongdae — the clubs and the cafes. Both have their own central arteries with some scattered gems to be found further afield. We’ll start on Cafe Road.

Old guys near Hapjeong Station

Exit Hapjeong Station, exit 5, and turn down the first street on your right. Keep walking straight when you hit the fork in the road (the short street on your right has a good Pervian Restaurant, Cuzco); you will walk past a series of murals:

Hongik University students painting the murals, last October

Continue walking past the murals. You will pass a series of cafes on your right and left (check back tomorrow for a picture tour of the cafes on this street, known as ‘Cafe Road’); they will extend for about 4-5 blocks.

About halfway down is a barbecue place — the first one on the right, and the dingier looking of the barbecues on this road, but it is by far the best — check it out for exotic fare like pig intestines, pig shoulder, heart, ogapsal (5-fat-layered meat, like samgapsal) that, I have heard, is the best you can find in the area (especially the pig intestines, which can be particularly awful without proper preparation).

Walking to the end of Cafe Road, you will find this cafe, reviewed in a previous Brown List post:

You are now on Parking Street. You’ll see why when you get there. Turn left down this road. This is the main artery of Hongdae — if you keep walking down this road you will find yourself on the west side of Hongdae.

Walk down 3-4 blocks. You will come across a building that looks like this:

Gallery Sangsangmadang - I used my helicopter (and visitkorea.co.kr) to get this shot

This art gallery is a great place to explore around, for one or repeated visits. There is a gallery on the second floor and a great design shop full of cool knick-knacks worth playing around with, looking at, or pondering the purpose of, even if they are not worth the inflated price. Highlights include a set of styrofoam chandeliers, wall decals, artsy subway maps, an IV-bag-cum-plant-pot and various art books and notepads/scrapbooks. If you know anything about Korean music, there is a music shop on the third floor.

(Check out the Sangsangmadang website, and a helpful map that they have that will make this tour slightly easier to navigate).

From Sangsangmadang, there are two key areas to explore:

1.) Take a left from Sangsangmadang, down a major road. If you take the first right, you will go down a street with Club M2 — one of the best house clubs in Hongdae. If you take the first left (there is a chicken place on the corner), you will pass DGBD on the right, a club that features good bands and an energetic atmosphere, despite its dingy entranceway:

Then, further down on your right, Castle Praha. This is probably the best cheap beer you will find in town — ~4,000 for a homebrew beer (Amber, Pilsner, or Stout) far greater than any Cass or Hite domestic, or, if you have a big party, you can opt for “The Meter” — 10 beers for 35,000. It is also one of the most conspicuous buildings in town (modeled off the castle in Prague’s central square)

You can't miss this place

2. To get to club road from Sangsangmadang (the art gallery) coming from parking road, turn around (180) and take the first left on Parking Street (there will be a Buy the Way on the corner). Walk down this street — you’ll find on your left Club FF, then Club Ska2:

Ska2 features mostly house and dance music while Club FF focuses on indie and alternative rock. Both are great clubs to check out and both open on club night (last Friday of every month) when you can check out all the best clubs in the area for a general admission 20,000 won ticket.

On your right, near Ska2, is Gr8, a fantastic hookah bar and a great place to bring a date or to lounge out with friends for a chill night:

If you turn right down this street before Gr8, you will pass Zen Hideaway on your left. One of the classiest restaurants I have been to, this place features an eclectic fusion menu, including some Korean dishes. Also on your right is 500, an underground basement bar with a fun cavernous atmosphere and live music.

If you keep going past Gr8, on the next corner is another classy lounge bar BricX. Walking down to the end of this road, you will find Club Evans (a jazz bar) on the corner, above a 7/11, and Jane’s Groove (a 90’s rock club) on the opposite side of the street. You can reach Sangsu station and finish your walking tour by turning left and walking down 3 blocks. Happy trekking!

For more on Hapjeong’s cafe scene, check out this photo journey of the area.

This post was originally published at Painting the Passports Brown.
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One Comment
  1. Melissa permalink
    April 10, 2010 8:11 pm

    Jesse- I am so impressed with how diverse and well-organized your blog is. It puts mine to shame…
    I loved reading about Japan, about how your new semester is going, and about all the cool places I could go to if I were to visit Seoul. Keep posting!

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