Seoul's Youth Culture:
Sinchon, Ewha, Hongdae
Not surprisingly, no age group represents Korea’s fast-forward embrace of the future better than its young people. From their love of the latest high tech gadgets, to their creative fashion, the teens and 20-somethings that frequent the neighborhoods around Seoul’s universities are trendsetters not just in Korea, but across much of Asia.
Following this tour will allow you to see and experience some of Seoul’s vibrant youth culture. In particular, the culture of the university neighborhoods Ewha, Sinchon and Hongdae. They are some of Seoul’s most colorful and energetic areas, filled with fun sights and sounds, not to mention delicious food that won’t drain your budget! This tour is for the young and the young at heart!
We’ll start our tour of Seoul’s most popular neighborhoods for young folks just outside the Yeongdeungpo train and subway station. From there, we’ll make the short trek to the Times Square shopping complex. After visiting some of the great shops and maybe even catching an IMAX movie, we’ll hop on the bus to Ewha, home of the world’s largest women’s university. Ewha Womans University is among Seoul’s most beautiful campuses, with its mix of old, Gothic-style buildings and a very modern Ewha Campus Center (ECC). After checking out the ECC and nearby Fashion Street, we’ll make our way over to Sinchon’s other big campus, Yonsei University. Yonsei has its own beautiful and historic quadrangle.
After the campus tour, we’ll enjoy the bright lights and energy of the Sinchon neighborhood. We’ll visit some of the photo booth stores, outdoor games and fortunetellers that are popular among students. After that, we’ll indulge in a cheap and delicious dinner. Afterwards, we’ll take the short subway ride over to Hongdae, where we’ll enjoy some of Seoul’s café culture at a cozy coffee house. To conclude our youth-themed tour, we’ll wrap things up by revving things up with a trip to one of Hongdae’s popular noraebang singing rooms!
Times Square - Ewha Womans Univ. : Times Square (the Seoul Version)
When you hear the name “Times Square,” New York City’s famous intersection, Times Square most likely comes to mind. It's where huge electronic signboards compete for space amidst one of the world’s most expensive and iconic pieces of real estate. It's not quite the same as New York's, but Seoul has its own Times Square, and it’s also a destination that’s popular among young people. Opened in 2009, Times Square is a huge hybrid shopping mall that was created to make something akin to Tokyo’s Rappongi Hills or Hong Kong’s Pacific Place in Yeongdeungpo. A once important part of the city, it had lost some of its luster and it was hoped that Times Square would bring back the area's shine. The complex has managed to do just that and is now a popular eating and shopping spot. The 370,000 sq. meter site includes a department store, wedding hall, shopping mall, fitness center, movie theater, offices and even a Marriott hotel. Modernity and luxury didn't come cheap however. The developer’s total cost was a staggering 600 billion won! However, a visit to Times Square doesn't cost a thing. Even if you’re not in the mood to actually shop, it’s a lot of fun to walk around Times Square, thanks to its wide, white and brightly lit interior spaces. For example, a huge glass atrium complete with two sky bridges makes Times Square a special destination. No matter your budget, you can shop for good deals (E-Mart) or luxury goods (Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Gucci). Spend a couple of hours browsing. You’ll also find a branch of the popular Kyobo Bookstore, (170,000 titles, 13,000 CDs and DVDs and 55,000 kinds of stationery and other gifts) and a 12-screen movie theater boasting one of the world’s largest screens!
Info: Opening hours are from 10:30-22:00 (the 5th fl. CGV is open until 3:00am on weekdays and 4am on weekends); wheelchairs can be rented on the 1st floor at the information desk.
1. Exit Times Square through the same door you entered through.
2. Cross the road, back in the direction you came from (towards Yeongdeungpo Station).
3. About 300m away, you will see a bus stop.Take bus #5714 (pay either in cash or with a T-Money card). Ride the bus for about 30 minutes and depart when you reach Ewha Womans Univ.
4. Cross the road to get to Ewha's Fashion Street.
Ewha - Yonsei Univ. : a Neighborhood for Women
① A beatiful campus.
② Ewha Womans Univ. campus.
③ A gothic style building.
The neighborhood around Ewha Womans University is called "Edae," an abbreviation of the school's name in Korean. The university is the world’s largest women’s college and was established by American Methodist missionaries with the permission of King Gojong some 120 years ago. The beautiful campus is a great place to visit at any time of the year, thanks to its beautiful architecture. Its Gothic style buildings are reminiscent of buildings from other great universities around the world. This international flavor is maybe best felt in one of the campus’s newest additions, the huge 66,000 sq. meter, 5-story Ewha Campus Center (ECC). At a cost of 100 billion won ($102 million), the big project was designed by Paris-based architect Dominique Perrault. As you walk down into the glass and granite canyon, don’t be afraid to step inside! The mostly underground complex holds restaurants, shops, a bank, study and performance stages. There’s also parking and even a cinema!
After walking to the back of the ECC, try taking the glass-walled elevator located near the Starbucks. It rises up through a fascinating chamber of reflecting steel to release you atop it all outside. From there, you can explore the beautifully landscaped upper campus, or follow the patchwork stone path back to central Edae.
On your way back, it probably won’t surprise you that Edae is well known for great shopping. The two streets that meet at the university’s front gate feature a fun atmosphere of beauty shops, salons, restaurants and boutiques with reasonably-priced clothing. Walk deeper into those narrow alleys to find even more hole-in-the-wall shops. For the true shopper, Edae is a great place to find trendy fashion at reasonable prices.
Ewha Womans University
Named after the pear blossom, Ewha’s architectural mix of old and ultra-modern on immaculately landscaped grounds makes it a favorite campus for many.
Kyung Hee University
One of Korea’s top colleges, this private university’s campus is much loved for its forested grounds, the huge gray Grand Peace Palace Auditorium and Central Library.
Set on 190 acres, the prestigious college’s castle-like main hall and central library were built in a classic Tudor-Gothic style.
1. Walk downhill past Sinchon Train Station and the Megabox Movie Theater.
2. On the right, you will see a tunnel with colorful graffiti.
3. Pass through the tunnel. At the end of the tunnel, turn left and follow the main road as it winds around to the right.
4. Walk about 250m, you will see Yonsei University. Cross the street to enter the campus.
Yonsei University - Sinchon : The Blue Eagle's Nest
As you walk around the Yonsei campus, you’ll probably realize that the students have a lot of pride in their school. Students wear lettermen’s jackets with a big letter “Y” sewn on the front. Hanging from the sides of large classroom buildings are huge blue banners with eagles announcing that Yonsei is the “first and best” school in Korea. Indeed, along with Seoul National University and Korea University, Yonsei is part of the “S.K.Y.” trinity, the three top universities in Korea. Throughout the year, the campus hosts school spirit events and each year there’s a festival that celebrates their long rivalry with Korea University. Even when it’s not festival time, however, Yonsei’s campus is a nice place to take a stroll. For example, at the end of the campus’s long main road is its most picturesque location. A complex of Gothic style buildings built in 1885 by American Presbyterian missionaries, the vines of ivy that cover the brick walls of the buildings are a favorite place for photographers. If you keep walking, the wooded trails work their way up Ansan Mountain. If you make it to the very top, you’ll be rewarded with great views of the city.
If you haven’t already noticed, a lot of Koreans have a lot of school spirit. If you think about it, it makes sense since where one goes to college in Korea plays a huge role in determining the future. One of the best examples of school spirit can be seen at the so-called “Yongojeon,” the Yonsei-Korea University games that take place each autumn. Since 1929, sports teams from the rival schools clad in Yonsei blue and Korea Univ. crimson battle it out for the glory of declaring victory in one of Korea’s longest-running college rivalries!
1. Once at Yonsei's front gate, cross the street.
2. Walk through the tunnel into the Sinchon neighborhood.
Sinchon - Hongdae : A Playground for Youth
Once you’ve finished admiring the Yonsei campus, it’s time to pick things up a bit with a return to the heart of Sinchon. From Yonsei’s front gate, it’s a short walk through the tunnel before you’re greeted with a seemingly never-ending line-up of signs that advertise everything a college student could want – cheap meals, phones, clothes, drinks, games, fortune tellers, books… you name it! The sidewalks are crowded with students heading to or from class or maybe just a study break in one of Sinchon’s cozy coffee shops. Although the word “Sinchon” means “new village,” it’s actually one of Seoul’s older neighborhoods. Sinchon’s epicenter is just outside Hyundai Department Store’s U-Plex shopping mall (Look for the huge hook shaped, fire engine red sculpture). From there, five streets go in every direction. While the road you came from connects Yonsei with the busy Sinchon Rotary, the perpendicular road to the left is called the “Sinchon Walking Street.” Lined in cherry trees, each spring they sprinkle the sidewalks with their pink petals. Behind it is a grid of busy alleys that are some of the best places in the city to find cheap and delicious barbeque pork restaurants (among many other options)!
On the topic of food, a favorite dinner option among many college students (not to mention foreigners, too) is dak-kalbi (spicy stir-fried chicken). The pan-fried boneless chicken pieces are prepared with cabbage and other vegetables, hot sauce and a whole bunch of other toppings of your choice (try adding jolmyeon noodles and cheese). Just when you think you’re done, your waiter will probably ask if you want to mix what’s left with rice… if you answer “yes,” get ready for some of the most delicious fried rice you’ve ever eaten! One more tip: while in Sinchon, before or after dinner, make sure you visit some of Sinchon’s other fun spots, like the video arcade, the always-funny sticker photo booths or even the baseball cage located along Sinchon-ro. Chances are, whatever the activity, if young people like it, you can do it in Sinchon!
1. From Sinchon Rotary, enter Sinchon Station. Take the train that is headed towards Hongik Univ. Station.
2. Ride for one stop, then exit at Hongik Univ. Station.
3. Leave the station via exit 5.
[Feb. 22, 2016 11:59 Input / Feb. 22, 2016 00:00 Publish]