In the second instalment of our Seoul City Guide penned by Boxer Jess from Korea, she takes us through the urban streets of Hongdae where the cool kids hang at – get the lowdown on where you can find Pony Makeup (!) and the best gimbap in town:
Hongdae, a popular shopping spot with just enough brands to keep you occupied for the day. Don’t be surprised if the streets are filled with young university students and tourists alike. Here, you’ll find high-end brands like MCM to street stalls selling phone cases and cheap eats. Come in the late afternoon and hang out till dinner, with Korean BBQ joints aplenty to keep your tummy warm on a cold winter’s day.
Directions to Hongdae:
Take the green subway line to “Hongik Univ” (Line 2), and get out from Exit 8 (less crowded exit).
Here’s a pinch of what this youthful neighborhood has to offer:
Memebox offline store carries the full range of Pony Effect makeup line and their in-house I’m Meme line (although their online store offers so many more goodies and promotions.) Nonetheless, should you like to see their range of cosmetics in the flesh, this is a good pit stop. Some personal favourites from Pony Effect include their latest lip colour palette where you can mix and customize your own lip colours, the everlasting cushion foundation (a favorite amongst YouTubers) and the magnetic brush set and frame.
1st floor, Wausan-ro 23-gil 39, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Daily : 10:00 – 23:00
This 3-storey mega Kakao Friends store is one of the newest additions to hit Hongdae’s shopping paradise. Ever since it opened its doors a few weeks ago, the store has resembled a madhouse that’s filled to the brim no thanks to shoppers checking out with bags full of cuteness.
There’s usually a long line snaking to the entrance especially on the weekends, and if you’re already planning a trip there in the wee hours, good luck as you might get first dibs on new arrivals. However, your (presumably less excited) shopping buddy can cosy up with a Kakao friend shaped macaron at the cafe upstairs while you brave the shopping frenzy two floors below. Fret not if you are unable to visit this brick and mortar store as you can get most of the stuff online here.
Kakao Friends Store (Hongdae)
162, Yanghwa-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Daily : 10:30 – 22:00
Chuu, a local purveyor of lingerie, is situated directly opposite Stylenanda’s flagship store in Hongdae. In this offline store you can get a closer look at the offerings and perhaps try on your picks from their best selling -5kg jeans to something kinkier like this shell shaped lingerie set (which actually looks even better in real life).
20, Wausan-ro 29da-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Daily : 11:00 – 23:00
If you’re a foodie who likes your rice-ingredient ratio to be 1:2 then you should try Teacher Kim’s gimbab. There are a few stores with a similar offering of “less rice, more ingredients” in a gimbab around town, but this spot is one of the pioneers and happens to be my personal favourite! Check out their menu here and don’t be afraid to ask for their English and Chinese menu should you need one in their outlets.
Here are my personal top 3 picks in no particular order: Bulgogi gimbab, cream cheese walnut gimbab and chicken salad gimbab – perfect for a quick snack/meal to fuel your shopping appetite.
Teacher Kim (Hongdae)
10, Hongik-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Mon-Sat : 10:00 – 22:00
Sunday : 10:00 – 21:00
This BBQ joint is opened by YG (yes, the entertainment company that also opened Moonshot) and it happens to be their very first BBQ outlet in Hongdae (they have a few now).
The dipping sauce here is quite unique, and as other BBQ joints usually serve the fried rice after you’re done with your meat, here they cook them separately and bring it over to your table whenever you request for it. Not forgetting, their fried rice has chopped meat in it (this scores in my books because regular BBQ places usually do not add meat in rice) which makes this place a worthy joint for some hearty nosh.