Seoul is a conservative city, but also one that is changing fast, and its small - but heady - gay scene is a perfect illustration . Tucked between a mosque and Itaewon`s hiphop-blasting ghetto-fabulous red light district is "Homo Hill" : a cluster of bars and clubs offering Seoul`s best night out, in an unparralleled exotic location.
Make no mistake, Korean boys work hard but they party harder! If you are coming from Tokyo (as I did) you might well be shocked -pleasantly! - by the jostling dancefloors and the upfront , outgoing attitude.
On Summer nights clubbers take breaks between bars, hang with their friends and flirt on the cobblestoned street outside- a cool, cruisy vibe!Often theres as much fun going on on the streets as inside!
There are two dance clubs - "G" is the best. Recommmended for funky house music and a fun crowd (tip: the pretty fashionista boys congregate in the left hand corner by the airconditioner). "Why Not?" , a few doors up, is small and hella cruisy. If you cant pick up here, give up. Poppier music.
"Queen" is a charming, chilled bar directly opposite. Go here first, enjoy the dirt-cheap happy hour and then head off for a night of dancing."Soho" is a relaxed, sophisticated bar/restaurant , good for intimate dates.
Scattered around Itaewon there are a few other gay haunts - ask around. "Heaven" is particularly recommended. An art deco theme, (ironic?) show tunes blaring, a charmingly flirtatious tapdancing barman and regular fondue nights make this a novel addition to Seoul`s scene.
For fun of a more , ahem, intimate kind, there are several "saunas" around the Hill. One is in the middle of the African street (see: "Itaewon" must see page), halfway up, next to a Pakistani restaurant, Look for the "sauna" symbol...but be ready for anything- its rough-as-hell, with absolutely no frills, and not for the faint of heart!!!
Still, a taste of Seoul`s fast emerging (and hard-living) gay scene may well provide your most exotic, and exciting memories, of the city.
Dress Code None
If any of these apply to you, then you must grab some grub at those street vendors:
1) you need an airy, smoke-free place to eat;
2) you are on the borderline of being broke;
3) you got hungry in the middle of your frenzied shopping at one of the night markets;
4) you were walking by the food stall, and it smelled damn good;
5) you're drunk and hungry, and cannot find anything indoors that is open.
Ok, this is not probably supposed to be in 'Nightlife' but I usually went here before, during or after a nighit out. It's just fantastic.
Bascially it's a bing-soo (Korean dish also popularin Taiwan and many other Asian countries in different forms) place but a chain (Ice Berry is another one) and it's good. They take shaved ice, add yoghurt to it and top it with your choice of 2,3,4 or 5 fruits. Mmmmm. Gettin ghungry just thinking about it.
It's a tiny venue, seating maybe 200-250 people...just perfect for newer acts or if you want a more intimate scene.
I saw The Koreans there in Fall of 2004...had no idea what to expect from the place. I think it may also be used for plays and such (judging from its website) also.
Dress Code Depends on the act, I gather.
This establishment is a breath of fresh air in my opinion. But its name is a contentious issue.
Often its called 'the Bar' by many because above the door is a sign that says the bar (even though this is the name of a bar above). Others call it 'Bar 33' because this is apparently what the new management has dubbed it. But others (the Seoul oldies - like me) call it 'Norae Hanun Saramdul' And this is the name still above the door. Although the sign itself is in Korean characters and made of nailed pieces of birch. But this sign sets the scene.
As you descend the stairs you will see dim lights, loud retro music and what I love most, Koreans and Westers mixing socially.
Beer is cheap and sold by the pitcher or the pint. Cocktails are rudimentary, the winelist (do they have one?). But you can request any song you can think of (they have it.. and if they don't they'll download it.) And then when you drink to much and need the bathroom, you can ascend the stairs and experience something quite sobering.
This bar is one of my faves. I've coming here on and off for quite awhile.
Dress Code Dress how you want. You'll blend in withthe graffiti that way.
I think when I read the card for this I mis-read it as the Benny Hill show. I mean, who wouldn't want to see that, right? unfortunately Benny hill died in the 90's and I went to the Walker Hill show instead. I only say unfortunately because it was so expensive.
The show itself is actually pretty neat. There is a lot of traditional Korean folk music, and dance, and if you get the meal package, the meal is very nice. Plus, there are ladies in skimpy clothing during the "rock show" which is always something that the Kdoc enjoys. (read that as, kdoc desperately needs a girlfriend.)
There are 2 shows nightly, one at 5pm the other around 9. Costs range from 60,000 won to 90,000, depending on whether you want just wine, or a four course meal and decent seating.
Dress Code It is a nicer show. I wore a suit and was not at all out of place.
If you are shopping for clothes, shoes and any fashion items, Dongdaemun nicht market complex is the place to go. There's a stage right outside the buildings and often live music to get the crowd. Even if you are not shopping, it's an experience.
Dress Code anything goes
Once in a while there is a firework at the Banks of Han River. The locals are going crazy, but I have to say that I wasn't impressed at all. It was packed like hell and the firework was very short and not good at all.
The area of seoul known as insadong, is very lively and entertaining. Located in the jongno area, you will find lots of little shops and studios and many pubs and eateries. Step down one of the alley ways and find some unique pubs, where the young people of seoul enjoy some cheap eats and drinks. Or just stroll the main drag and people watch, but you have to try some of the hawker food along the way.
Dress Code anything
Nanta means "hard pounding" in Korean so as you can guess, the theatre production "Nanta" is a percussion comedy show similar to something like "Stomp" or "Tapdogs" but using kitchen equipment. It's about this group of chefs in a restaurant that have only an hour to make a banquet. Anyway they use real food on stage and had real soup which they got a couple of people from the audience to sample and the percussion includes knives on wooden blocks, pots and pans and whisks in collanders etc etc. It was extremely good and very very funny. It's a must see in Korea.
Dress Code casual
A good place where to go in the evening is Myeongdong.
There are many shops (where you can buy the latest fashion), little restaurants and cafés, live music and pretty girls :-)
The national souvenir center is also located there. You can buy a good selection of typical korean souvenirs for very good prices in the shop, for example wooden boxes with ornaments, green pottery (which had its origin in the Koryo-dynasty), postcards, bookmarks and, and, and ....
And don´t forget to visit Myeongdong Catholic Cathedral - its the oldest in Korea.
Dress Code There is no dress code