Hongdae (홍대) area is a youth, indie culture and nightlife district in Seoul. The name “Hongdae” is named after the university, Hongik University (홍익대학교; 弘益大學校) best known for their Fine Arts course. Most recently, KBS drama, “Mary Stayed Out All Night/Marry Me, Mary! (매리는 외박중)” featuring Moon Geun Young (문근영), Jang Geun Suk (장근석) and Kim Jae Wook (김재욱) was filmed mostly at Hongdae Area. Another drama that was filmed at Hongdae is “The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince (커피프린스 1호점)” which featured A-list Hallyu actress, Yoon Eun Hye (윤은혜).
Sungkyunkwan University (성균관대학교) is located at Daehangno (대학로) district of Seoul. You’ll need to alight at Hyehwa Station (혜화역) Exit 4 and walk a distance to reach Seoul’s campus. What’s special about Sungkyunkwan University is that it has a history of more than 600 years and it is believed to be the first university in East Asia. What’s more, there is even a book based on the university called ” Days of Sungkyunkwan Students (성균관 유생들의 나날)” which was later made into a drama called “Sungkyunkwan Scandal 성균관스캔들” starring Park Min Young, Micky Yoochun, Yoo Ah In, Seo Hyo Rim and Song Joong Ki.
Photo Source: Drama Wiki
As you alight Hyehwa Station, you’ll see many shops and restaurants located at the Daehangno area which literally means University Road. The place is not as vibrant as Hongdae but it also offers street stalls and pretty good restaurants and cafes.
Insadong(인사동) is a cultural place in Seoul which is very accessible. You can either get down at Anguk,Jongkak or Jongno 3-ga station.
Insadong is the best place where you can find traditional Korean antiques, calligraphy, tea houses and souvenirs. In fact, about 40% of Korea’s antique shops are located at Insadong. It’s definitely not a boring place. If you watch one of the episodes of “We got married”, Yonghwa and Seohyun went for a date at Insadong eating sweet potatoes.
One place you wouldn’t want to miss would definitely be Ssamziegil. It has an artistic atmosphere. I love the charming alleys which is design in a form of spiral-like slightly uphill walkways which means you do not need to climb the stairs therefore it’s also disabled-friendly. The stalls have really cool and unique accessories mostly designed by the stall-holders themselves. Do check out a stall which sells Ddong-ppang(똥빵) at level 1. You can also take a picture at one of the staircase and write a message and send an email to your friend as an e-card.
Korean youths are pretty artistic as they love to vandalise. The walls of Ssamziegil are filled with cute drawings despite many of the places in Seoul having the sign “낙서지 마세요” which means “Vandalising not allowed”. Nonetheless, I felt that these vandalising actually made this place more artistic don’t you think so?
Hidden Find at Insadong
Walking down the street of Insadong, you may find alleys which are mostly Korean restaurants. I went to one of the restaurants called (인사동 큰집) and had bibimbap there. The ambience and food was definitely awesome!
I just came back from Seoul. When I was there, the weather was between 3°C to 13°C. It was definitely a fanastic time to visit Seoul and I still managed to see the beautiful autumn leaves. You would get to see autumn colours everywhere.
I’m glad that I visited Sungkyunkwan University, which was a beautiful sight. This is one of my favourite pictures where the boy and his father are having fun at Sungkyunkwan.
More updates soon 🙂
I will be flying to Seoul tomorrow (actually in a few hours)! Below are two MVs “S.E.O.U.L Song” by SNSD + Super Junior and “Fly to Seoul Boom Boom Boom” by 2pm which speaks about my excitement. Enjoy!
Fly To Seoul Boom Boom Boom
I will be updating my trip when I’m back. Stay tune 🙂
Useful tips before you go Korea!
Kyuhyun of Super Junior will be part of S.M Entertainment’s project – S.M The Ballad
Music Video for “Let’s Go” for G-20 Summit featuring Seohyun (SNSD), Jonghyun (SHINee) etc.
2PM is the big winner for MNET Asian Music Awards 2010
Plan Your Itinerary
Do research before you go! Make a list of tourist spots you would like to go first. Be realistic and do not plan too much in for one day. Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) offers very good description and travel information for the whole of Korea. If you want to ask those who have been to Korea before, Tripadvisor will be a very good platform. The travel experts will give you very good advice such as accommodations, transport etc.
Get Maps and Travel Guide Book
Korea Tourism Organization in Singapore provides maps and even a Korea travelguide book. It is conveniently located at Samsung Hub, #01-02, 3 Church Street, Singapore 049483 which is near Prudential Building. The nearest MRT Station will be Raffles Place. You can even join activities at their Korea Plaza such as Kimchi Making and Korean Survival Classes to let you know more about the Korean culture. You may also want to be a Wah! Korea Club member. Join the facebook group too to get travel tips and latest offers.
Learning some Korean will definitely help when you travel to Korea. Korean is actually not very difficult if you already know Japanese as the grammar is kinda similar. If you are really not a language person, perhaps you can just learn how to read Hangul which you may master within a day. You will often find English words written in Hangul in Korea. It will definitely make your life easier. For instance when you want to find the food you want such as Bibimbap (비빔밥), Kimbap (김밥), Tteokbokki (떡볶이) etc as it’ll be written in Korean most of the time.
Appreciate K-pop / Korean Dramas
You’ll be more excited when you are in Korea. I feel that when you listen to K-pop or watch Korean Dramas, you will appreciate Korea more. Just imagine that you’ll be “flooded” with K-pop music and the posters of your favourite Korean idols while walking on the street of Seoul!
Prepare for the weather
Korea has four distinct seasons though summer and winter are longer in Korea than Spring and Autumn. As I am travelling in a few days, it will be somewhat between late autmn to early winter. Daytime will be cool and nighttime will be cold. Recently in Seoul, the weather fluctuates a lot as winter is near. Check the weather online before you travel and prepare the suitable clothing for the season and everything will be fine.
Bring Enough Money
Seoul is a shopping and food paradise and you definitely want to spend extravagantly when you’re there.
G20 is happening in Seoul now and there are different types of kimchi with interesting ingredients created in honour of each nation attending the summit.
NOTE: All pictures and explanations comes from the facebook fanpage of Korea Tourism Organization. For more information, please “Like” Korea Tourism Organization at http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/koreatourism !
Australia : Chong Gak Kimchi – Young Radish Kimchi
“With the diverse cultures and new cuisines Australia continues to introduce, we offer a recipe that can go well with any menu…”
Indonesia : Kimchi marinated with coconut and spices
“Indonesian people enjoy coconut and spices…a great pairing of those ingredients Indonesians love”
Mexico: Gochu Sobaghi – Stuffed pepper kimchi
“Korea and Mexico both enjoy spicy food… Let’s introduce both countries love for spicy food to the world.”
I really do want to try the Indonesian Kimchi. The kimchi is seasoned with ingredients also familiar in Singapore – spices and coconut. The taste will definitely be unique and delicious.