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Hongik University Street: 6 best things to see

Note: This article is a guest post by Jimmy and Tah from Divert Living.

Hongik University Street, also known as Hongdae, is one of the most famous streets in Seoul. It’s a neighborhood that is known for its amazing youthful atmosphere and underground cultures that appeal to a huge footfall of tourists from every nook and corner of the world.

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A view of an intersection of Hongik University Street. People are walking both in the street and on the sidewalks in all directions. Many look like students, carrying backpacks. Trees on the corner in the foreground, buildings in the background with shops on the ground floor.
photo courtesy of Divert Living

The area is dotted with everything from must-visit galleries, cozy cafes, fashion and accessory stores, gourmet eateries to taste savory Korean food, and art markets. The fun in the neighborhood is not just restricted to these: here you can also expect to enjoy some amazing street performances, cultural events, and festivals. Hongdae has so much to offer all tourists that it will just make you fall in love with the place.

What to Explore in Hongik University Street?

Here are six of the best things to see in the Hongik University Street area, a.k.a. Hongdae.

Seoul Trick Eye Museum

Seoul’s Trick Eye Museum is one of the most interesting places to visit for people of all ages. The term ‘Trick Eye’ derives from trompe I’oeil which represents the intriguing art technique that is used to create an eye illusion of a 3D object.

In the Trick Eye Museum in Hongik University Street, Jessica Esa appears to be sitting on a cartoon unicorn, dashing through water with a wave threatening them in the background.
The Trick Eye Museum. Photo courtesy of Jessica Esa of Books and Bao.

The museum is basically a recreational space where visitors can come to enjoy an amazing experience that allows them to interact with 3D paintings. It is one of those few museums around the world where Augmented Reality (AR) is incorporated into the exhibits. This creates a whole new experience for its visitors. You can take pictures with the exhibits and relish the amazing effect of AR.

Seoul Trick Eye Museum: #B2 Seogyo Plaza 20 Hongikro 3gil, Mapogu, Seoul. Open daily 9:00-21:00. Admission: 15,000 won (€11.5/$13).

Hongdae Nanta Theatre

Yet another must-see around Hongik University Street in Seoul is Hongdae Nanta Theatre. The theatre is the first of its kind where people can come to enjoy Nanta performances. Nanta is a non-verbal performance that is performed on traditional rhythms of Korean folk music and modern music. The storylines in these performances are indeed mind-blowing.

The stage of the Hongdae Nanta Theatre in the Hongik University Street neighborhood. There are no people on the stage, but the word Nanta is spraypainted on the back wall. In front of the wall are 4 big barrels of various sizes, each labeled: GochuJang, Salt, Kimchi, Sugar and Doenjan. Between them and the camer are scattered small balls: red, white and green, on a black wet floor that looks like it's wet in spots.
Hongdae Nanta Theater. Photo courtesy of Marie Boes of A Korea Travel Blog.

Hongdae Nanta Theatre is equipped with special sound systems and lighting to deliver an indelible experience to tourists. Every day, hundreds of visitors come to be a part of the intriguing Nanta performance at Hongdae Nanta Theatre.

Click this link to order your Hongdae Nanta Theatre tickets.

Hongdae Nanta Theatre: B2, 29, Yanghwa-ro 16-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul. Show times: Monday to Friday at 17:00 and 20:00. Saturday at 14:00, 17:00 and 20:00. Sunday at 14:00 and 17:00. Prices start at 44,000 won (€34/$37).

Alternative Space Loop

Founded in 1999, Alternative Space Loop is one of four alternative spaces established in the same year in Seoul. If you are wondering what to do in Hongdae, then I would immediately suggest you visit the Alternative Space Loop. It is indeed an interesting place to visit which will arouse your evergreen curiosity to explore various art forms.

The place is known to support young artists who want to excel in the art of movie, music, visual, and performance. An entire planning committee along with a director and two curators decides which exhibitions and performances are to be displayed to visitors. In total, Loop has around 40 exhibitions and 20 performances including image, music, and play.

Alternative Space Loop:  333-3 B1, Sangsoo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Korea. Open daily 10:00- 19:00. Admission free.

You might also enjoy these articles about other things to see in Seoul:

Another photo from the Trick Eye Museum in Hongik University Street. Jessica Esa's head is on a table, as if it's been chopped off and set there. It looks (almost but not quite completely) like the floor continues under the table, but in this photo the "trick eye" is visible because the image of the floor doesn't quite line up. It looks as if the portrait above her on the wall is hoding a plate out of the portrait over her head, with a severed head either dropping into the plate or being dropped - it's not quite clear.
Another image from the Trick Eye Museum. Photo courtesy of Jessica Esa of Books and Bao.

Hongdae Happy Day Spa

Tourism around Hongik University Street is not just restricted to amazing and fascinating attractions. Hongdae Happy Day Spa is one of the oldest as well as one of the most popular spa centers in South Korea. The massage includes body scrub and sauna. Hongdae Happy Day Spa includes a fitness center, massages, a snack bar, a computer room, and a spa center.

Not just locals, but the place is also quite popular amongst tourists. People come here with a desire to soothe their mind, body, and soul through an intense massage experience. If you’ve been traveling for a long time or have jet-lag and travel stiffness, then this is the place to relax and get rid of that.

Since the spa centre remains open all through the day, you can come here at any time without even worrying about what to exclude from the itinerary in order to visit.

Hongdae Happy Day Spa: 112 Yanghwa-ro, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Hours: daily, all day and night. Prices vary per treatment.

Yoon’s Color

Yoon’s Color is also called the ‘Four Season House’ and was once the office of Yoon sok-ho: the director of the series “Winter Sonatas.” Presently, the building of Yoon’s Color includes a cafe space on the first floor. The rest of the house has exhibitions featuring photos, props and other items from the drama series, including ‘Spring Waltz’, ‘Summer Scent’, ‘Winter Sonata’,  ‘Autumn in My Heart’, and ‘Snow Queen’.

Yoon’s Color: 12, Wausan-ro 14-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul. Open daily 10:00-22:00.

Hongdae Free Market

Let’s be honest, shopping is a must on every vacation. Hongdae Free Market is one of the most popular Hongdae shopping places around Hongik University Street. The market is operated in a flea market format. However, where any other flea market sells second-hand products, the Free Market in Hongdae is known to sell only genuine creative artwork. In fact, the market was first held in the year 2002 and, since then, it has been one of the top attractions around Hongkik street.

In front is a lit case in which necklaces are displayed. Along the right a group of people, mostly young women, are lined up looking at small items (jewelry, I think) on display on tables. On the left part of another stall is visible with a few people walking by.
Hongdae Free Market. Photo courtesy of Maria Boes of A Seoul Travel Blog.

Not just shopping, but you can also expect to enjoy some cultural events and amazing performances by indie bands here in Hongdae Free Market. In the afternoon, the market hosts a stage for various local musicians and artists. If you want to explore the Korean food culture, you can also savor the taste of delectable Korean cuisine in Hongdae Free Market served by the hundreds of vendors.

Hongdae Free Market: in Hongik Cultural Park at the main gate of Hongik University. Saturdays from May to November, 13:00-18:00. Admission: free.

Use this link to book a hotel in the Hongdae neighborhood!

How to Get to Hongik University Street

An amazing fact about traveling within Seoul is that you can reach from one corner to another with ease, thanks to the Seoul Metropolitan Subway. In order to reach the street, you can board a train to Hongik University Station from the nearby station of your accommodation. Take Exit 9 and from there, it’s just a few meters’ walk to Hongik University Street.

On the whole, Hongkik University Street is worth giving your effort and time. It’s guaranteed that you will enjoy your time here. However, do not forget to capture your indelible experience around Hongik Street in your camera lens to relish it later when you feel “Hongdae-sick.”

About the authors: We are Jimmy & Tah, American and Thai millennials who left our careers in the military and finance to become travel inspirers & storytellers at Divert Living. We started our life of non-stop traveling in September 2017. Sharing our journey along the way of life we have always dreamt of – traveling and being able to work wherever we love (as long as there are Wi-Fi and coffee).

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Text: Hongik University Street in Seoul, South Korea
Image: the same as above, with Jessica sitting on a unicorn
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about Rachel

Hi, I’m Rachel!

Rachel’s Ruminations is a travel blog focused on independent travel with an emphasis on cultural and historical sites/sights. I also occasionally write about life as an expatriate. I hope you enjoy what I post here; feel free to leave comments!  Read more…
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