Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Why Hongdae is a must visit when planning a trip to Korea!

Hongdae
The Nightlight of Korea

(Sorry for the delay is posting this blog, it's been super busy lately...죄송합니다 (joesonghamnida: I'm really sorry)
This blog is inspired by a question asked over at ibuzzkorea.com and I wanted to go in more depth in my answer but figured I would do so here...



Ever since I read an article about the concept of "Silent Parties" in Hongdae, I knew that Hongdae was going to be a place I had to see for myself! Hongdae is a city in Seoul that is based around the Hongik University which is a school for the arts. So, as can be expected from an artsy university, Hongdae is a cultural hot spot! I'm not the kind of person to go on vacation and just relax. If I am going somewhere new I prefer to experience the culture and find out what makes it unique and different than my own home. Even travelling in the United States I like experience the place like a local (if it is at all possible). This is specifically why Hongdae is so appealing to me. 

Back to those Silent Parties; what happens is a person can walk up and get some headphones which music is played through and surround yourself with people who are also hearing the same music you are but it's silent to anyone who isn't listening. The concept would definitely cut down on a lot of music violations here in the States for home parties although the sight of a lot of people just dancing randomly would be pretty entertaining--it might even be worth not listening to the music! People watchers unite!! *silently jots into her Korea Plans notebook: must record silent party* 

Since I've begun talking about the night life (which Hongdae is most know for) I guess I'll start there before discussing the day life...Hongdae is definitely an all day (if not two days) type of adventure! 

Hongdae has many clubs, some of which can be found Here; I picked a few that I, personally, would like to go to and experience (The NB, SK@ & Hooper) although, I'll be honest, I chose Hooper mainly because they play Kpop and lets face it, I would love nothing more than go and see other people who love Kpop as much as I do dancing to it. Although, there is waaaay more clubs than was has been advertised in the above-link. In doing research for this blog, I actually found a Video made by Simon & Martina, who are the creators of "Eat Your Kimchi". (*quick side note: If you have never heard of "Eat Your Kimchi" or Simon & Martina, I strongly suggest you go check them out. This crazy Canadian duo have been living in Korea for 5 years & know plenty about Korea's culture. They also have "Music Mondays" where they review Kpop songs that get voted in by their followers & it's just crazy fun to watch their comedic hijinks and it's a good way to learn about new songs/artists!*) 

Overall, Hongdae night life is a scene to behold as there are tons of people and a lot of things to witness. One of my things I am most looking forward to is the Children's Playground! 
    *Neither of these pictures are mine: I googled them*
This spot is actually a favorite among Kdrama producers: I mentioned "Coffee Prince" in my last blog and coincidentally that KDrama was filmed in Hongdae along with some scenes from Marry Me, Mary! and "Flower Boy Ramen Shop". The significance of this spot at night is it is the sight of many independent artists. Artists set up their booths that cater to their specialty whether is is rapping, dancing, singing, etc. This is also the site of the silent parties that can take place in Hongdae. This Video illustrates another average night in Hongdae from a different point of view than the "Eat Your Kimchi" video (although both are great reference points).

Hongdae is known as a college town...obviously, right?...except it puts a whole new spin on the US term. I went to school at SCSU in St. Cloud (MN), which is also known as a college town except I think the Koreans could school even us on the ways of partying! The average opening times for clubs are about 7 p.m. and unlike many bars/clubs in the States where bar close is at 2 a.m., Hongdae doesn't even begin to shut down until the wee hours of dawn. Many bars are open until near 5 or 6 a.m. It kind of reminds me of Beale street in Memphis, if anyone has been there...that's about what I would imagine Hongdae would be like.

However...if partying until you drop isn't your thing (and it shouldn't really be most people's "thing" although according to our friend's over at Eat Your Kimchi Drinking and Drunkeness is a pretty safe ordeal over in Korea (I suggest watching the video as Simon and Martina are hilarious and it's informative)...Hongdae is more to offer than alcohol consumption and dancing to offer. It's actually a pretty popular spot during the day as well. This Site gives you top ten things to do whilst in Hongdae and although I have my own plans, I plan on doing each and every one listed here. Especially the Makgeolli Man, he's actually pretty famous but beware, I hear that Makgeolli (rice wine) is pretty deceptive...don't drink too much. I think what I'm most looking forward to doing is the free market...vendors line the streets of Hongdae to sell their wares which are each individually unique and the perfect place to meet and greet the locals and get a very good cultural feel for Korea (or so I've read/heard). So stop by one of the cafes in the morning, and walk the streets in the afternoon, buy some wares for your family and friends back home and then party all night long! Here's another site if Hongdae has suddenly made your list of things to do in Korea!

Let's see...what should I end this blog with...

Artist of Today's Blog: We're going with FT Island!!
>>>
This band is kind of a hidden gem in the sense that once people wade pass the "Super Junior" and "SHINee" and "Girls Generation" groups, you discover this well-known band. People new to the Kpop world always hear about the former three but the latter...give them a try, they're pretty amazing...and well...pretty...in general. They are a rock band (of sorts) but before stereotyping them as rockers...just realize they delve into all kinds of different music. To give you kind of an idea of their span, check out the following songs; Severely (my personal favorite), I WishEven Lost A Friend, and lastly Bad Woman (which I think showcases Lee Hong Ki's voice very nicely). They are known for writing their own songs and they play their own instruments. Hope you like them! 

KDrama of Today's Blog: Given I chose FT Island for the Artist, I HAVE to go with "You're Beautiful". 

Why, you ask? Well...see the man allllllll the way to the left in the above (FTIsland) picture (look at the arrows)...THATS Lee Hong Ki and he's in "You're Beautiful" as a supporting/main role and if you don't absolutely fall in love with his character than...I guess you don't, but he's VERY hard not to love in that Kdrama! Two pieces of advice: 1) Just go with it...no matter how weird or awkward the premise is in the beginning...just go with it because it gets better (<-which, if you start to watch more and more kdramas, is the usual mantra for first episodes) and 2) This drama introduces you to the terrible-ness that is the "Second Lead" syndrome...you'll see this in a LOT of Kdramas...the second love interest is more perfect for the lead girl than the ACTUAL love interest and your heart melts when he shows up on screen...so...you have been warned. Overall, however, the drama is pretty light, the characters make the drama incredibly funny and the main girl's "day dreams" leave the audience bent over in laughter. It's what I term a "light and frivolous" drama, it's easy to follow and doesn't demand too much emotional investment on the audience's part. So enjoy!  

Well I hope everyone is happy and healthy! Until next time...안녕히 계십시오 (Annyeonghi Gyesipsio: Stay in Peace)

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