Street Art To Be Found in Seoul’s Art District
Blank walls and boring shutters are just asking to be painted when they’re near a university known for art students.
Ask anyone about Hongik University in Seoul and they’ll be sure to mention art. The surrounding area, Hongdae, is generally known as the go to place for a good time in the evening and an ideal place to find live music, but another highlight of the neighborhood is that there is street art and graffiti all over the walls and it is constantly being redone so it never really has time to get old. The art can show up in places you’d expect, like the freestanding cement walls strategically placed near the subway station or in places you’d be sure to miss unless you were there early in the morning, like the shutters that the shop owners pull down to lock up for the “night”.
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Paintings and drawing can be found on main thoroughfares, down alleys, on metal walls surrounding construction sites, street signs and on the poles holding those street signs.
Cafe owners paint their windows and bar owners let their staff and customers have free reign over the walls and doors. Finding something to take a picture of isn’t difficult in this area, though finding space and a chance to snap a photo when people aren’t meandering in your way can pose an issue. Since the hunt is half the fun, the other half can be considered taking a photo before another person wanders into the shot.
Early morning jaunts in the area are highly recommended as there are less people and some great street art can be found only when the food carts and shops have been closed up for the night, which is really morning by the time all of the night owls, tipsy businessmen and partying students pack it in.
If you’ll be visiting Seoul and want to stay in this lively eclectic district, check out the Hongdae Designers Hotel or the Marigold Hotel for a comfortable stay right in the action.
Most people head to Hongdae when night falls to enjoy the numerous restaurants with good eats, bars with alcohol flowing and bands that fill the night with good beats, but Hongdae has something to offer during the day as well. There’s an atmosphere here that can’t be found in every district of Seoul. It’s got a creative vibe that people young and old can appreciate. The general population in this area isn’t young and they aren’t old, they are in their 20s and 30s and they’re looking to be seen for something artistic and creative. They sit in cafes and they draw or sip a cup of tea while painting Matryoshka dolls. They sit in restaurants and they talk about galleries they’ve been to and artists they’ve adored. They sip coffee and wonder how they can create something new.
Whether or not you have creative genes or artsy inclinations, this area is worth a visit during the day just as much as it is during the night.
The area also has it’s fair share of quirky stops that will make even the most serious street art hunter chuckle from a cafe for the selfie obsessed latte lover to a chic animal themed cafe called The Galapagos that has a tortoise and sugar gliders roaming the premises. These are just a couple of the numerous haunts and jaunts you’ll see if you visit Seoul’s artistic district known as Hongdae.
Directions: Hongik University Subway Station, exit 8 or 9 and turn into the neighborhood away from the main six lane road. The neighborhood is backed on one side by a university and on the other three sides by large 6 lane streets so if you hit any of those, you know you’re on the edge and should turn around and walk back in again. Happy hunting.