SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, July 13, 2018 — The Hongdae neighborhood is now the most popular area among young people in Seoul. As time goes by, new kinds of social classes come into the area and Hongdae has been changed from a residential area to a place for independent culture, one of Seoul’s representative tourist attractions, and now a large-scale commercial area. What is the real meaning of the so-called “Hongdae Culture” that is constantly maintained for a long time?
Since 2006, the Seoul Museum of History has been conducting a research study about the capital’s various neighborhoods. It carried out another research about Hongdae’s culture and lifestyle in 2017 in cooperation with the University of Seoul, and published a research paper titled “Hongdae, Seoul’s Cultural Powerhouse.”
According to the paper, the Hongdae neighborhood was formed for the first time along the Danginseon Railroad that was used to carry anthracite coals to a thermal power plant in Dangin-ri. After liberation from the Japanese occupation, it became a residential area through the district reorganization project. At that time, it was a popular place as a high-class residential area where many middle-class citizens had lived. In 1955, Hongik University was replaced into this area and its art school had been developed into Korea’s no.1 art school. Since the 1970s, the Hongdae area had become a center for arts. In 1993, the “Street Art Exhibition” was held to create a healthy college culture, and the streets in Hongdae were full of artistic atmosphere.
After the year of 1990, dance clubs and live clubs have started their business, which had played a role as a cultural liberation place for those seeking new and alternative culture, instead of uniformed pop culture. Rock café “Drug” was the venue for famous underground bands such as “Crying Nut.” SKA, the first Rock café-style dance club in Korea, opened in 1992, and is now still doing its business. Since the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup, this area’s club culture had been selected as a tourist product for foreigners, and the Club Day event held here every year became all-time hit.
However, since the mid-1990s, modern-style cafes, large-scale clubs and unique shops met the capitalism to create a consumption-oriented commercial culture in Hongdae. With the opening of Subway line 6, the Gyeongui-Jungang Line and Airport Railroad, the number of foreign visitors and floating population had been increased, and the Hongdae area became more commercialized.