Memos from Asia

How to spend one whole day in Hongdae, Seoul

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Even though many cities in Seoul are packed with activities, food, and unique things to do, Hongdae is known to be a major city with the most exclusive cafes, restaurants, shops, and museums attractive to many young adults. Among many of these activities, we created a one-day itinerary for you to have the most fun-filled day in Hongdae, Seoul.

Hongdae streets, Hongdae, Seoul

1. Trick-eye museum

Trick-eye museum is a new museum filled with so many illusionistic artwork experiences and many photo opportunities. All of the artwork is drawn in a way that creates an illusion through the photo you take. This crystal ball photo makes the person look as if they are really trapped inside a crystal ball.

Crystal ball (Credit: Lana Min)

For example, from the front angle, a person would need to lie on the floor to look like they are about to be eaten by a giant fish. From a different angle, the giant fish looks flat and like a painting, but the trick makes the photo look 3-D and more realistic.

Fish illusion photo (Credit:Lana Min)

Another room will have the person take a photo sideways, so that the person sitting on the bamboo will look like they are climbing up the bamboo tree next to a panda.

Panda illusion photo (Credit:Lana Min)

When purchasing a ticket for the museum, the attendant will tell you to download the app, which is highly recommended.

The app will allow you to take photos at each stop, but it will make the photos interactive and in 3-D. The photos will start making the filter move around, so that you can download it as a video and share it on social media.

The museum is also home to two other museums that are next to each other, which can all be bought as a package. Buying the package is discounted, and you will have a lot of fun checking out all three museums.

The ice museum is a much smaller museum, and it has many ice sculptures inside. There is an ice slide that you can actually ride. There is also a train made out of ice, and other beautiful ice sculptures. The museum is freezing cold, so make sure to bring a jacket!

Ice Museum, Hongdae, Seoul

The third museum is called Love Museum, and it is an adult museum that can be inappropriate for children. The museum hosts many different types of sexual artwork that creates a unique experience for visitors.

2. Meerkat café

The meerkat cafe is a bit further up the block from Trick-Eye Museum, but is a great way to spend an hour or two while cooling off from the heat. The cafe is filled with the most adorable meerkats, which you can actually pet and see up close inside a small glass room.

Meerkats inside glass room (Credit: Lana Min)

When you enter the cafe, you must buy a drink or dessert of your choice. All of the drinks are tasty, and after you order, you can relax by the tables and have a dessert with your friends. Afterwards, you can line up for the glass room to meet the furry meerkats!

The attendants will explain rules to visitors before entering the room, in order to prevent accidents and injuries. Meerkats are very sensitive animals, so they need to be handled very carefully.

The meerkats sometimes like certain people, so they will all gather together in front of a specific person. The meerkats also will climb on top of people and stand still, so do not be alarmed.

Aside from the meerkats, there are also cute wallabies, owls, and other animals inside the cafe that roam around freely. They are very small and like people petting them. What better way than to hang out with rare animals in Hongdae, Seoul?

Wallaby at the Meerkat Cafe (Credit: Lana Min)

3. Shop until you drop in the bustling Hongdae Shopping Streets

Hongdae shopping streets, Hongdae, Seoul

Hongdae is packed with lines of shopping booths down a narrow alleyway. Among these, there are very unique items for sale, such as character socks, pet clothes and snacks, and great quality sunglasses. They also sell a lot of character plushies and beautiful Korean style clothing.

Dog snack store booth, Hongdae, Seoul (credit: Lana Min)

The socks are usually very cheap, and you can buy 5 for under $10 USD (12,000 Won) sometimes. There are different types of characters and cute animals that are on the socks. The plushies are also cheap and there are different varieties. They also sell cell phone pop sockets and cases as well.

When exiting Hongdae exit 9 from the subway, there is a very large Kakao Friends store right next to the exit. The store is one of the largest in Korea, and they have a huge variety of Kakao Friends merchandise inside. There are also large life-sized figures of Kakao characters for people to take photos with.

Kakao Friends Store

Kakao life-sized figure, Hongdae, Seoul

There are a lot of plushies, clothing, earphones, snacks, bags, suitcases, and cute school supplies that many young adults love to buy. There is also a second floor with a cute Kakao Friends cafe, that sells Kakao themed coffees, cold drinks, and desserts like Kakao character macarons.

Kakao Friends macarons (Credit: Lana Min)

Furthermore, there are many major American and Korean brand stores, like Adidas and in Hongdae. There are also a lot of Korean beauty stores, such as Etude House and The Face Shop.

The Face Shop is very popular among Koreans and non-Koreans, and the store is located internationally. There are many stores in America as well, and are known to often have collaborations and advertisements with famous Korean celebrities.

The Face Shop products, international
Etude House interior, Hongdae, Seoul

These are the major brands that sell good quality makeup and unique beauty items for a good price. Etude House is a bit cheaper, and is targeted towards young adults. Their shop exterior is recognizable by its pretty pink house shape. A lot of Koreans buy daily makeup from this shop.

Etude House, Hongdae, Seoul

4. Watch buskers and dancers perform in Hongdae

Dancers in Hongdae, Seoul

Buskers and dancers often perform in the circular performance area along the booths in Hongdae. The dancers and buskers are often young adults looking to show off their talent, who look forward to becoming Kpop idol trainees.

There are many amazing singers and dancers among these buskers, and it is a fun way to spend some time in Hongdae. There was even one incident where a singer was singing a famous Korean singer’s song in the area (MC The Max), and the real singer joined in singing with the busker while passing by.

Busker and M.C The Max, Hongdae, Seoul

This video went viral after the original singer came to sing with the amazing busker, and has received a lot of praise because of its great spectacle. The streets of Hongdae is a renowned spot for passionate singers to practice singing in front of an audience and see their reactions.

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