Defying its turbulent past, Seoul is a city basking in its own vibrant culture. Propelled by hallyu – that’s the Korean Wave of contemporary culture – people all over Asia are falling for Seoul’s individuality and quirkiness. But it’s no tiny pocket of creativity; this is a sprawling city and in it, there are three main neighbourhoods that best demonstrate the city’s personality. I’ve got some ideas for things to do in Seoul – and I have a sneaking suspicion you’ve heard of the first neighourhood.
What to do in Gangnam
Yes, there’s a lot of style in this far away district in Seoul. But despite its imposing skyline and metropolitan feel, it remains loyal to hallyu with its K Pop offerings. Here, you’ll find K pop fans visiting SM World, the mecca of K pop label SM Entertainment; and you’ll find streets lined with luxe offerings for the city’s elite. Try going off the beaten track with a visit to the Musee de Parfum, where you can design your own bespoke scent – either on your own, or together with your partner. Oh, and there’s a giant statue of Psy just outside of the metro station that plays Gangnam Style at the press of the button.
What to do in Itaewon
Formerly the site of the US army barracks, this area attracts the local expats after hours on a Thursday – but it’s not all about the party. Brunch is big in Seoul, especially in Itaewon, so head to Le Saint Ex for your mid-morning fill any day of the week.
What to do in Hongdae
No visit to Seoul is complete without a trip to Hongdae. The area’s name comes from a Korean portmanteau of the local Hongik University; the most respected and exclusive university for the arts in Korea. Between 4pm and 10pm, you’ll see the next generation of dancers, singers, and general performers out practicing in the street to lively crowds; so head to central Hongdae for the street performers. You’ll be able to pick up all kinds of street food at the local stalls, and the area is crawling with restaurants offering the delicacy that is live octopus – if you’re brave enough to order it.
If you want to learn more about my adventures in Seoul, visit my blog Arts End of Nowhere!