Guest post by Daniel Lee, a senior at Foster studying Finance and IS, who participated in an exchange with Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea.
When first arriving in Seoul, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the vast size of the city and the number of people in it, but after a few short weeks, it is really easy to accustom yourself to not only living but thriving in Seoul. By day Seoul is an extremely lively city full of space and places to enjoy and explore. To fully enjoy the city don’t be afraid to get on your feet and get lost. Although many major spots can be accessed via the metro, the coolest streets and neighborhoods of Seoul I found were found wandering around aimlessly, by doing this you might stumble upon pre-modern houses or happen upon a hole in the wall restaurant where all the customers are old grandpas getting their favorite chigae (stew). If you have no plans, just pick an area and get lost in it, I am positive you will be pleasantly surprised to what you find and experience.
However, once the sun sets I would recommend hopping on a subway line and heading for the three major centers of Korean nightlife: Hongdae, Itaewon, and Gangnam. The three areas have very distinct vibes, so depending on your style and preference you might find you like one the best. Hongdae is where you would expect a much younger crowd, with fewer formalities and dress codes, you will find the most college students enjoying their nights out here. Itaewon is known for being the place for all the foreigners with a huge expatriate crowd, you can expect a bit of a tighter dress code and familiar faces. Gangnam is where you would expect an older, wealthier crowd, think bougie, expect exotic cars, designer clothes, and expensive drinks. Wherever you go, the best part about Seoul nightlife is that nothing really closes (except the subway), so you can easily satisfy those late night munchies with some tteokbokki (spicy rice cake) at a food stall or fulfill your dream of becoming a K-pop star in a norebang (karaoke room)– either way you will be having a lot of fun all the way until the sun rises (and the subway opens).