What it's like to go out in Korea's coolest neighbourhood

In San Francisco it’s the Mission, in New York it’s the East Village, in Berlin it’s Kreuzberg.

In Seoul, the booming capital of South Korea, it’s Hongdae — the go-to neighbourhood for all things street food, street fashion, and anything else a hipster could want.

On a recent reporting trip to Seoul, I gawked my way through the hyper-visual hood and it’s equally excellent neighbours, Hapjeong and Sinchon.

The results, as you’ll see, were awesome.

The walk began outside our apartment in Hapjeong, the Alphabet City to Hongdae's East Village.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

It's a many-splendored neighbourhood. As in (golden!) cheese tarts.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

McDonald's -- delivered by ballers like this guy.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

An open container policy, which turns 7 Elevens into al fresco watering holes. Throw back a soju (basically Korean vodka), smoke a cigarette, and catch up with your bro, as two bromances do here.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

The 'mandoo,' or dumplings, are on point.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

Starbucks is everywhere.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

The pizzas are maximal. Camembert Sweet Potato sounds pretty good, especially with a few squiggles of mustard and mayo.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

Culture is literally in the streets.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

You know you've reached Hongdae when you see a few identifying features. One of them is thoroughly cute boutiques, like this one.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

Or this one.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

Or this one.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

Another identifier is the cafes and bars that are seemingly always open.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

The streets are crowded with shops and pedestrians.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

You can pick up clothes for your phone, too.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

It's cool in Korea to dress just like your boyfriend or girlfriend.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

Seriously.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

Street food is a way of life.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

This guy's whipping up takoyaki, a snack imported from Japan where a ball of wheat flour is formed around a slice of octopus. It tastes like cornbread and calamari.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

You might enjoy an ice cream-filled fish.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

Or any number of fried vegetables.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

The backpack game? Also solid.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

Meat on a stick? Why not.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

Even the subway is fresh. We're headed to the neighbouring hood Sinchon, in search of friendship and foodstuffs.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

Sinchon station is a happening place. Just ask a rabbit.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

The destination: a beer with expat buddy Dave, who works in publishing. Craft beer took off in Korea in the past five years, and the the results are on par with just about any brew in the States.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

We then ventured over to a chik-maeg, or chicken and beer, shop across the street.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

Tons of people were already chowing down.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

As my buddy Jay explained, Korean fried chicken is fried twice, giving it the extra-crunchy flavour.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

Plus you eat it with chopsticks, so your beer doesn't get all sticky.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

Like everything else in Korea, you eat chicken with a generous pour of soju.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

It's the kind of food that prompts some remarkably goofy looks of satisfaction.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

The only thing that could make it better? An appearance by superstar Tech Insider video producer Will Wei.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

One thing's for sure: the next day, you're going to need some coffee.

Drake Baer / Tech Insider

NOW WATCH: Executive Life videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.


Tagged In

features korea ti-us