If you had been following closely to this travelogue that I am doing on my trip to Korea last year, we already managed to check out quite a lot of the so-called shopping havens in Korea with a high percentage of them actually being quite disappointing. But even so, it was already our ninth day in Korea and sixth day in Seoul itself and it was really about time we check out yet another highly raved shopping district within Seoul and find out all about it ourselves! Read on to find out where!
[Korea September/October 2014]
4th Oct 2014 – Day 9
Hongdae (Hongik University Street)
As always, I am that unusual early riser when I am overseas or supposed to be on a break or holiday. So I managed to have a large pocket of time to check out the neighborhood around our apartment while waiting the girlfriend to rise and prepare for the day.
Chungjeongno/ Seodaemun Station
And during the morning walk, I managed to chance upon Standing Coffee, one of the hottest cafe you can ever find in Seoul! I believe the tall tables and chairs were recent additions but this cafe started off with the concept that it comes with absolutely no seating area so you can either grab a coffee and go or choose to stand around to slurp up the contents of your cup. And by ‘hottest cafe’, I was referring to macho male baristas in neat white button downs who will serve you from behind their counters.
Anyway. it was really quite disappointing that almost everything on the menu was unavailable during my visit, even their signature Blue Lemonade that everyone is harping about, and I had to settle for a simple Earl Grey tea since it was really quite chilly that Autumn morning and I needed something to warm myself up.
In other news, I am not too sure if they are still in operation since their official website is down and I cannot find any other recent updates and details about the cafe. Any Koreans here to help verify this? 🙂
Hongdae 홍대 (Hongik University Street) & Hongdae Free Market 홍대 프리마켓
The area in front of Hongik University is a fascinating neighborhood known for its youthful ambience and a place where there is freedom for self-expression. And within Hongdae 홍대, there are unique cafes, galleries, fashion shops, live cafe and clubs, art markets or gourmet eateries and you can expect cultural events, street performances and numerous festivals held there. No wonder the place is a popular hang-out for locals!
And upon arriving at Hongdae on a beautiful Saturday late morning, we stopped by KongBul 콩불 for a quick brunch before commencing our afternoon exploring the neighborhood!
According to a few other articles that I just managed to find on Kongbul, it seems that Kongbul is a franchised eatery with a fair bit of outlets across Seoul and possibly across Korea too.
I am not sure if they offer other food choices but from the only menu that I had seen while we were out at the eatery, the place offers bulgogi 불고기 over a very simple menu. And thankfully they had their menu in English completed with cute illustrations of exactly what they are serving and we managed to settle on our choice and had our brunch served promptly.
This set for two comes with bulgogi and generous helpings of bean sprouts, complete with noodles, cheese, fried rice and a carton pack of Coolpis 쿨피스 to make up to a full meal. I have to say that it was really quite yummy and hearty for brunch and the best part is that all that only costed us ₩15,000. Cheers to affordable food! 😀
Anyway, you can find almost everything for everyone since the shopping streets at Hongdae are quite endless. So instead of elaborating on that, I rather point and direct you to one particular area just beside the kids’ playground in Hongdae!
Every Saturday, since year 2002, the park transforms into grounds for Hongdae Free Market 홍대 프리마켓 where folks from all walks of life gathers to display everything artsy fartsy from handmade crafts to performances.
Although the flea market was so packed with people and the sight of the crowd might deter you from hopping right in to check it out, I have to say that it is really going to be worth checking out since whatever you are going to pick up from the stalls is definitely going to be one of a kind! Got myself a bunch of earrings from a very talented girl at Janginsoin and a pair of hand-painted mugs for the brother and sister in law!
A corner of the park separated for live performances. And that afternoon, there were various indie bands going up to sing a song or two for the crowd that had gathered! Beautiful voices to hype up the flea market!
Anyway, I think the Hongdae Free Market is really worth a trip to check it out. Imagine I am saying that even though it was so goddamned crowded and I am someone who hates crowd! Haha! Anyway, I really feel that you cannot simply get that youthful feel and ambience as well as those beautiful arts and crafts anywhere else! More info on Hongdae Free Market at http://www.freemarket.or.kr/.
Shaved Ice with Cheese 치즈빙수
And aside from shopping our afternoon away, we wasted no chance to stop by random cafes, eateries or even this shaved ice cafe, Hongdae Dalsuda 홍대 달수다!
A side note to all you fashionista girls, Hongdae is home to the flagship store of Style Nanda!
Actually, there is so much more to Hongdae on top of what I mentioned in my post here! There is just too much food, shopping and fun you can find in this lovely district that I have to say that Hongdae is currently my favorite district in Seoul until someone can find me another awesome town that can convince me to replace Hongdae in my heart!
And by the way, we actually sneaked off to Hangang Park for a bit in between all the shopping and eating at Hongdae and that actually made us fall in love with the park so much that we actually called off the plans the next day and planned a picnic instead even though it was cold and chilly in Autumn! I will elaborate both our experience with Hangang Park in the next post! Stay tuned!
More posts from Korea September/ October 2014 travelogue series:
- Day 1 – Seomyeon Shopping District, Gwangalli Beach & Gwangan Bridge
- Day 2 – Gamcheon Culture Village, Jagalchi Market, BIFF Square, Gukje Market & Gwangbok-ro Fashion Street
- Day 3 – Shinsegae Centum City, Haedong Yonggungsa & Jong-ga Daebak Jib
- Day 4 – KTX Busan to Seoul & Myeongdong
- Day 5 – Gwangjang Market, Bukchon Hanok Village (Samcheong-dong) & Insa-dong
- Day 6 – Edae Shopping District
- Day 7 – Gangnam and Sinsa-dong Garosu-gil
- Day 8 – Ihwa Mural Village and Namdaemun
- Day 9 – Hongdae (Hongik University Street)
- Day 10 – Hangang Park
- Day 11 – Bupyeong (Incheon) and Cheonggyecheon (Seoul)
- Day 12 & 13 – Flashback and Goodbye Korea (for now)!