Hongdae… After The Party Is Over
Have you ever wondered what Hongdae looks like after the party is over and everyone has gone? The smell of food trash and alcohol mingles with the smell of early morning dew drops on trees and benches. Sounds of birds chirping and brooms being swept on sidewalks clash with the drunken laughter and yelling from basement hofs and songs being sung out of tune spill out of noraebongs. There are three kinds of people in Hongdae at sunrise: the drunken fools that think the party must go on and they try to continue until they’re sleeping with their heads in their soups at the 24 hour restaurants, the sweepers and trash collectors who come to clean up after the drunken fools and the early risers, walking dogs, speed walking, or headed to a cafe for a morning brew.
The park is empty save for a few unsavory sorts sleeping on benches and the pigeons have come to root through the leftovers for their breakfast. The trash collectors are picking up the bottles left on the ground and sweeping the cigarette butts into dust pans while at the same time looking for any money or treasures left behind in the piles forgotten when the party was in full swing. Your favorite bars and restaurants have been shuttered and the vendors that tried to hawk you their jewelry, key chains and other knick-knacks have closed up shop. The food cart owners are cleaning up their carts to head home for some sleep and the trash trucks are the only vehicles puttering along the alleys.
This early in the morning, it’s hard to picture the crowds of people, some on dates, some going to parties, and some just coming to gawk because their guide book said to that take over the sidewalks forcing the fast walkers to weave in and around on their way to wherever it is they want to go to quickly. The tables and chairs that spilled out of restaurants onto the pavement have been stacked inside giving the area this space seldom experienced in this neck of the woods. The early morning risers steer clear of the drunk party goers as they stumble to the subway station or bus stop calling it a night, though it’s now definitely day. The men and women wielding brooms know they’ll clean it all up only to do it again and again every day until they stop, though the trash will never stop accumulating.
There’s a peace and calm in the area at sunrise, a feeling most people probably never experience in Hongdae, and yet it is also dirty and smelly. It’s an interesting juxtaposition to experience and walking alongside people who have had too much to drink so as to be unaware of your presence adds a third sense of being invisible in a place that’s been closed down.