Youth of Seoul

Regular parts of Seoul are already energetic enough, but imagine what might happen if over a hundred thousand university students all poured into the same tight area - this is Seoul as you've never seen it. Korea cubed, the buttons of noise, neon, hustle and bustle all tweaked up to their maximum. University districts around the country are renowned for being the hottest nightspots in their respective cities; while univesity front gates are typically green pristine places aimed to keep up a studious front for the parents, the rear entrances are commonly surrounded by schooling of a different sort.

Korean teenagers put a prodigious amount of energy getting into university, but once there, tend to put more emphasis on discovering the joys of the adult world for a few precious years before work takes over. Lying in wait just outside the university gates, they'll find a pack of bars, cheap restaurants, internet cafes, karaoke rooms, dvd bangs, shopping and much much more.

In a small district just west of central Seoul, the universities of Hongik University, Yonsei, Ewha, Myongji and Sogang sit almost within touching distance of each other; the area teems with energy during the day and is saturated with neon at night. Hongdae, as Hongik University is usually referred to, has found particular fame as Korea's most energetic entertainment spot, setting the trends that other university districts follow a year or more down the line.

While Hongdae is not exactly a high-brow destination, it's hard not to be impressed by the sheer variety of bars, cafés and clubs on offer. Also different are those who frequent these establishments - a new generation whose hairstyles, dress sense and general demeanor are markedly different from anywhere else in Korea. Hongdae acts as a magnet for those who dare to be different, a testing ground for new styles or business ideas.

View more images from Hongdae here and watch our video "Hongdae by Night".