I have strong ties with Hongdae, what I call a colorful island in the midst of Seoul. What do I mean by strong? Well, Hongdae is where my Dad spent most of his college years lying on the cold streets from drinking too much soju (He graduated from Hongik University, located at the center of Hongdae). Hongdae is also where my Dad fell in love with my mother after seeing her chugging down a bottle of soju, a story my mother still denies to this day. My parents have many memories in Hongdae, though some are forever lost from too many bottles of soju. I also spent countless nights at Hongdae, at times wandering the streets like my father, intoxicated; and at times, jumping up and down in clubs. Without doubt, Hongdae is a special place where traces of my mother, father, and I forever remain behind. However, for many visitors, Hongdae can be daunting at first. Though Hongdae is a small place, vistors often find themselves confused amid the crowded and narrow streets of Hongdae. Everywhere you turn, you will see train of restaurants, bars, and stores. Yet you might feel unsure about where and how you should spend the night. It is easy to feel overwhelmed, especially as you are being squeezed by hundreds of people walking by. Therefore, with a wish to make your stay at Hongdae memorable, I am going to share various (by means not all) acoustic music venues in Hongdae you can try out.
#1- Radio Kitchen (라디오 키친)
The name Radiokitchen perfectly describes what the venue is like. The nostalgic mood the radio brings + delicious food from the kitchen that unleashes inner piges within us. Also, the interior of the live stage makes you feel like you are in a cozy, little theatre. Radiokitchen is a down-to-earth music venue where you can basically bring anyone and everyone. It is a perfect place to bring your date too. Those dim lights will make any person on the other side appear beautiful and sexy. And I say nothing can go wrong with good music and food. I would recommend Radiokitchen for people who are looking for relaxing night out.
- Location: 서울특별시 마포구 서교동 358-53 지하, Seoul, Korea 121-838.
- Hours: Tue-Sun 5:00 PM – 3:00 AM
- Music Selections: Soft Rock; Pop; Acoustic; Jazz
- Perks: Currently holding Happy Hour from Tuesday to Sunday! Wide Variety of Menu and Drink Selections
- Contacts: 82-2-323-5357/ email@example.com / Facebook https://www.facebook.com/rkinseoul
- Price: $$
- Things to Remember: Happy Hour starts at 5PM and ends at 8PM for Tueday-Thursday. From Friday to Sunday, Happy Hour ends at 7PM!
#2- Acoustic holic (어쿠스틱 홀릭)
The circular shaped stage of Acousticholic is what really sets this acoustic music venue apart from others. The stage allows for viewers to have an intimate experience with musicians. You can sit around the stage and watch performers in such a close proximity that you might feel awkward from making frequent eyecontacts. But I have to say that my favorite part about Acousticholic is that lonerangers can go to this venue without feeling awkward. Many people come here alone so no weird glances if you enter here by yourself. If you are traveling alone, I think Acousticholic is a good place to go out and have a drink.
- Location: 서울특별시 마포구 서교동 328-18, 우림빌딩 지하 (underground level)
- Hours: Tue-Sun 7 PM – 2 AM
- Music Selections: Acoustic; Soft Rock
- Perks: Wide variety of Drink Selection (They have non-alcohol cocktails here too).
- Contact: 82-70-8249-8818 / Facebook https://www.facebook.com/acoustic.holic?fref=ts
- Price: $$
- Things to Remember: Performances are free only on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday. You have to pay around $5.00 to watch performances on Friday and Saturday.
#3- Cafe Unplugged (카페 언플러그드)
You can think of Cafe Unplugged more as a coffee & tea shop that holds open-mic nights. I love how Cafe Unplugged has that local feel. You will immediately feel comfortable here. You can just sit here for hours, undisturbed. During daytime, the warm ray of sunshine pours through the large windows. At night, the cafe turns into a live music cafe where local musicians come and play. Cafe Unplugged is a homey place where you can come in and enjoy music while sipping on your favorite drink. My drinkers, don’t be disappointed, Cafe Unplugged sells alcohol too.
Location: 마포구 서교동 326-18 1층 (first floor) Seoul, Korea 121-838
- Hours: Mon-Fri 1pm-Midnight/ Sat-Sun 11am-1am
- Music Selections: Acoustic; Soft; Jazz
- Perks: They offer gutar lessons here. Few members of Cafe Unplugged started a magazine called Galpi, and they are hosting a first movie night this upcoming Tuesday (07/08) at 8PM. Check them out at: cafe.naver.com/cafeunplugged. They also have a podcast channel: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/hongdaeindieum-aggwa-munhwa!/id515168647?mt=2
- Contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org/ 82-070-8197-9251 / Facebook https://www.facebook.com/music.cafeunplugged
- Price: $
- Things to Remember: They hold open-mic nights biweekly on Sunday and Wednesday. Every Thursday, they hold a night called “Between the Cafe,” which discovers hidden bands and introduces them to the audience.
#4- Bitter Sweet Sound Café
Bitter Sweet Sound Cafe, what a perfect name! BSSF is an intimate and cozy cafe in the quieter streets of Hongdae that hosts live performances on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I can sit here for hours, because the chairs in the cafe are so dang comfortable. BSSF is a great spot to study, read, and hang out with friends. BSSF is another local cafe where you will find yourself at ease. Don’t be surprised if the person next to you gets up and plays on stage. Many musicians hang out at the cafe before and after their performance.
- Location: 서울시 마포구 어울마당로5길 25 Seoul, Korea
- Hours: Mon-Thur 12PM~12AM/ Fri-Sat 12PM-2AM/ Sun 12PM-12AM
- Music Selections: Acoustic; Soft rock; folk
- Perks: Weekly Live Performances; $2.00 off for take outs
- Contact: 82-70-7523-1152 / Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bittersweetsound
- Price: $
- Things to Remember: They only hosts live performances on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
#5 – Club AUTEUR (클럽 오뙤르)
AUTEUR is one of the oldest live clubs in Hongdae, and it certainly has a strong presence in Hongdae as THE live music club professional musicians perform at. Everday at 8 p.m. AUTEUR begins the live stage, but you can start entering from 7:30 p.m. Note that there is an entrance fee of 15,000 (approximately $15.00). However, the entrance fee is worth every penny. Many famous muscians went through AUTEUR. Rock stars like Sinawe and Broken Valentine played here, as well as the folk singer Jang Jae-in.
- Location: 마포구 서교동 367-36, Seoul Korea
- Hours: Everyday opens at 7:30pm
- Music Selections: Pop, Folk, Classic, Jazz, Traditional, World Music, Crossover, Rock
- Perks: The entrance fee includes one free drink.
- Contact: 82 10-9281-5224/ Facebook https://www.facebook.com/clubAUTEUR / Website https://cafe.naver.com/clubAuteur
- Price: $$
- Things to Remember: They open at 7:30 PM. There is an entrance fee equivalent to $15.00 (includes one free drink).
#6 – nestNADA (네스트나다)
Many people have questioned for a long time what is the role of artist, meaning of art, and function of intellectuals. In a society where people are confronted with reality, can art help society progress further or not? Presented more as Cultural and Arts Center than a music venue, nestNADA shows how art can be used to make the world a better place by attempting to reeducate and grow awareness among people on disabilities through art and music. With the help of a social enterprise HB, nestNADA opened in 2012 with a mission to help musicians with disabilities, break the misconceptions towards disabilities through art, and provide stable funding for musicians. Just as the birds break out of the egg and safely fly away from the nest, nestNADA promises to serve as a stool for all musicians to grow as artists. nestNADA donates 60% of all profits to support musicians and minorities. nestNADA will make you think in depth about the power of art and music to heal and educate people. Dreaming of a world where the boundary between disabled and non-disabled people disappears, hoping for a world where everyone can be viewed the same, nestNADA continues to challenge the way society views people with disabilities with art and music as its tools. I highly recommend you guys to visit nestNADA if you are in Hongdae. On the wall, you will see beautiful artworks by artists with disabilities, and on the stage, you will see disabled and non-disabled musicians performing together, making beautiful sounds.
- Location: 서울시 마포구 서교동 336-5 2F 336-5 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
- Hours: 6PM-1AM
- Music Selections: Jazz; World Music: Acoustic; Soft Rock;
- Perks: They hold movie nights called “Barrier Free,” with the entrance fee equivalent to $10.00 (The fee includes unlimited popcorn, one free drink, and legit food). It is noted on the blog that they served pork soups (돼지국밥) at the last screening.
- Contact: Phone +82 2-555-3199/ Email email@example.com / Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Festival-NADA-nest-NADA / Website http://nestnada.blog.me/ Twitter https://twitter.com/nestNADA
- Price: $
- Things to Remember:Check the calendar at http://nestnada.blog.me/ because you can buy the tickerts beforehand for some performances. They post monthly schedule on facebook page. No performances on Monday and Tuesday.
If anyone knows other good acoustic venues in Hongdae, please let us know. I hope you liked this article, for more will be coming soon! We will continue to introduce other live venues in Seoul and other cities, so let us know if you have any cool ideas or suggestions for the next feature article.