Seoul after Dark
Photo credit: http://seoulstateofmind.com/
“Between the time the last train leaves and the first train arrives, the place changes: it’s not the same as in daytime.”
― Haruki Murakami, After Dark
In the day, Seoul is a picture of efficiency, of men and women in dark colored suits and serious conversations. All is prim and proper, flawless like the makeup of the Korean lady sitting next to me at a cafe. It is easy to mistaken that all Seoul has to offer is Kpop, plastic surgery and beauty products. Culturally, Seoul is still deeply rooted in Confucian values and it is still uncommon to see displays of affections in public. I’ve heard of stories where an elderly ahjusshi would reprimand a young couple who were hugging on the subway. After dark, if you’re at the right place, Seoul transforms into a seductive siren that never sleeps.
Photo credit: Club Ellui Facebook
There are two major hotspots in Seoul if you’re looking for a night out partying – Hongdae and Gangnam. Most of these clubs open from 10pm and closes only when the sun rises (7am). It is recommended to only hit the clubs after midnight. The three areas are distinctly different and you will be spoilt for choices.
Hongdae (you may want to read this post) attracts a very young crowd (~20s) because of its reputation as a university area, cover charges (10,000W to 20,000W) and drinks are cheap. Also, you don’t have to worry about what you wear here as the dress code is quite relaxed. On weekends, NB2 (owned by YG Entertainment) which plays mainly hiphop is crazy packed. The other big club in this area is Club Cocoon (plays electronic music), if you look good and dress well chances are you may skip the queue! The last Friday of the month is also known as Club Day in Hongdae and for just 20,000W you get free entry to most of the clubs in the area.
Gangnam, possibly the most heard of Seoul destination, is the playground for the rich and the famous. Here the crowd is definitely stylish, sexy (very, especially ladies) and beautiful. So if you choose to party in Gangnam, dress your best and prepare to spend some cash. Club Octagon is the one of the hottest clubs to go, it even has an indoor pool (see picture above!) where dancers perform during events. The other is Club Ellui where world-class DJs have been known to spin at, featuring three sections that cater to different music preferences. If you’re looking for an exciting night out, Gangnam is the place to go.
If you’re looking for a completely unique experience, then a night club is where you should head to. A night club is not a hostess club (as we know in Singapore) or a dance club (as the Western world knows it). A night club, or booking club, is kind of a very strange combination of both. Groups of singles (male only or female only) go to these clubs and are usually seated in plush booths. The waiters, some kind of modern day Cupid, then attempts to set up these tables together by escorting the females to the males’ booth. The men buy the women drinks and they chat, the women are free to reject or leave the tables at any time. In short, men and women meet total strangers at the club and choose if they want to continue the night together. This is a uniquely South Korean experience and somehow in complete contradiction to the conservative facade of Seoul in the day.
Photo credit: http://wanderandlust.com/
The night ends for some of these party revelers in Seoul’s most famous alley for love motels – Sinchon. There are many such motels in other areas, but Sinchon which is right next to Hongdae is the most famous of all. The rooms are charged hourly and on weekends you may have to wait on a waiting list for the next available room. Even if you’re not looking for a place to crash for the night, these motels are usually cheaper options than hotels and may be a good option for travelers who are looking to save on accommodation. Just be warned, you may get some disapproving stares when you walk out in the morning.