A neighborhood that never sleepsLooking for a cool neighborhood where something new is always happening? Check out Daehangno, which means “college street.”
The 1.6-kilometer avenue, which stretches from Jongno 5-ga to the Hyehwa Rotary in Central Seoul, is lined with bars, karaoke rooms and restaurants. Ditto for the surrounding streets. The quarter’s sidewalks and Marronnier Plaza are populated by street performers, fortune-tellers, vendors and portrait artists.
Daehangno also is home to the Korean Culture and Arts Foundation, numerous small theaters and concert halls, exhibition halls and outdoor stages that are used for poetry recitals, plays and rock concerts.
And, with good reason. The area is surrounded by five universities -- SungKyunKwan University, Sungshin Women’s University, Duksung Women’s University, Hansung University and Hongik University (well, some of it), not to mention the medical school and hospital of Seoul National University.
Daehangno was christened in 1985 to reflect the artistic spirit of the young Koreans who were congregating in the area.
The extended area around Daehangno includes several major historic sites: Changgyeong Palace, the Joseon Dynasty palaceturned-botanical garden and park; SungKyunKwan, the Joseon Dynasty’s highest educational institute-turned-university, and Ihwajang, the residence of the former Korean President Syngman Rhee.
Today, Daehangno is one of Korea’s hallmarks of youth culture and art, bustling with people in search of inspiration or simple fun.
This weekend, Daehangno is offering even more activities than usual. Cherry Filter, an alternative rock band, is performing at Polymedia Theater tonight. Jazz musician Lee Jung-sik is playing the saxophone with folk guitarist Park Hak-gi at SungKyunKwan University. The Broke in Seoul Video Festival kicks off this weekend at Hitel On & Off. These, and more events, are waiting for you at Hyehwa Station on subway line No. 4.
African Art Museum
Theme: African arts
Telephone: (02) 741-0436,7
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily
Seoul’s only museum dedicated to African culture and history is here in Daehangno. It displays more than 600 artifacts and pieces of art dating from the late-17th to the early-20th centuries. Admission is 2,000 won ($1.75) for adults and 1,000 won for children. The museum’s cafe, El Paso, serves Tex-Mex food and sells souvenirs.
Theme: All-in-one cafe, seminar room, library
Telephone: (02) 763-9111,2
Hours: 10 a.m. to midnight daily
Mindeulle Yeongto (“Dandelion Territory”), also known as Minto, is a spacious, five-story building that hosts cultural events. It’s a great place for relaxing. Swing by for poetry recitals, open forums, concerts and exhibitions. Minto also has a book store and a library. For 4,000 won, visitors can use the seminar rooms. For an additional 4,000 won, a simple meal -- pasta, pork cutlet or fried rice -- is served. Advance reservations are required.
Theme: Jazz bar
Telephone: (02) 743-5555
Hours: Noon to 3 a.m. daily
Chunnyun Dongando (roughly translated as “For 1,000 Years”) has been hosting Korean and overseas jazz performers since the mid-1990s. Eugene Park, the Korean percussion band Puri, Carol Kidd and others have filled the club’s brief but rich history. The program changes weekly. Performances run from 6:50 p.m. until 2 a.m. nightly. Drinks cost about 11,000 won.
Theme: Drinking Korean-style
Telephone: (02) 742-9779
Hours: 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily
Banjeo is known for its soju served in carved fruit shells. Pineapple soju, for instance, is a delightfully delicious soju cocktail served inside a whole pineapple. Fruit cocktails cost 10,000 won. Banjeo also serves a variety of popular Korean side dishes.
Theme: Japanese food
Telephone: (02) 766-6100
Hours:11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
Kijoam specializes in udon, tempura, sukiyaki and domburi (rice with various toppings). Near this restaurant is the Kijoam Stonegrill (02-764-6464) that serves Angus steak grilled on stone plates. Noodles and rice dishes cost about 6,000 won; steaks between 17,000 won and 28,000 won.
Dongsung Arts Center
Telephone: (02) 766-3390
Hours: Varies by event
The Dongsung Arts Center, the first of Daehangno’s large, theater-and-more complexes, has played a pivotal role in developing the area since opening in 1989. The center houses an avant garde cinema called Hypertheque Nada, an auditorium, a small performing-arts hall, an art shop, cafe, library and more.
It’s broke, but it doesn’t need fixing
With just one camcorder between them, a handful of underground artists from the Hongdae area set out in 1997 to make movies. Their motto: “whoever, whatever, however.” The only requirement was that the films cost less than 100,000 won ($80) each. The winner got his production money back.
The result was the 100,000 Won Video Festival. Held twice a year, the festival received rave reviews. Artists, amateurs and aspiring auteurs joined in.
The festival grew, and two years ago, the organizers began working with the JVC Tokyo Video Festival and Hong Kong Videotage. The expanded event needed a new moniker, so the 100,000 Won Video Festival became the Broke in Seoul Video Festival.
This weekend marks the latest Broke in Seoul, with low-budget filmmakers getting together at Hitel On & Off in Daehangno. The theme of the latest two-day fest is “Avoid Direct Sunlight and Distribute in Cool Places.”
The festival starts at 1 p.m. Saturday with screenings of six works from previous festivals, followed by the works of the Pleix Group from France. The Videomaker’s Night in the evening provides an opportunity for the filmmakers and the audience to meet.
Sunday’s program includes a special forum called the Self-Distributing System, which features six Korean amateur video artists, including Kang Sung-su, Yun Sung-ho and Kim Sul-woo.
This weekend, five from Korea and one from France are in competition. They are “Wounded” by Kim Jong-kwan, “Hell” by Yeon Sang-ho, “Tick-Tock Blues” by Lee Hyun-chul, “My Sweet Record” by Park Hyojin, “A Plan of Android 17 From Outer Space” by Lee Dong-eun and “Oversight” by Cairs Chi Gerard.
All the videos have English subtitles. Hitel On & Off is next to the main parking lot in Daehangno. Tickets cost 3,000 won for adults and 2,000 won for children. For more information, call (02) 2263-6885.
Jivin’ and jammin’ in Daehangno all weekend long
Folk and jazz combine for different kind of gig
Tomorrow at 4 and 7:30 p.m.
Most jazz musicians dream of performing with Ron Carter, Kenny Barron and Lewis Nash. Lee Jung-sik has.
One of Korea’s top saxophonists, Mr. Lee, performs regularly at two top jazz clubs, Once in a Blue Moon in Cheongdam-dong and Cheonnyeong Dongando in Daehangno. To hear him in a different setting, check out SungKyunKwan University on Saturday.
Mr. Lee is sharing the stage with Park Hakgi, a folk guitarist. “We wanted to try something different,” said one of the organizers, noting the unusual mix of folk and jazz.
Alternative rockers step into the spotlight
Tonight at 7:30; Saturday and Sunday at 7 p.m.
Tired of Korean pop and its cloying, manufactured sound? Ready for grinding guitar riffs and a powerful voice?
Check out Cherry Filter, which got its start in small Hongdae clubs, but has graduated to this major venue. Led by You Jeen -- whose voice sometimes growls, sometimes floats -- the group features Son Star J. rapping and on drums, Woo Jin on guitar and YaeunhaeD on bass. The result is a mixture of Collective Soul, Cypress Hill and Alanis Morissette.
You might recognize Cherry Filter. It has been featured on movie and ad soundtracks.
Paying tribute to some of the best bands ever
Daehangno Live Theater
Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 5 p.m.
Kim Jong-seo, who has been knocking around the rock scene for years, hosts a series of concerts this month, each with a different theme. He launches with a Beatles week, followed by Led Zeppelin, Queen and Abba weeks.
Kim hit the music scene in 1984 when he played in the group Sinawi. He went solo in 1990, and has been experimenting with numerous styles, from ballads to harder, more alternative sounds. He has sung with the hiphop band Drunken Tiger and collaborated with the scratch deejay Wreckx.
by Inēs Cho, Joe Yong-hee